Psychological problems related to mistakes

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Rami Rustom

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May 12, 2012, 10:51:19 PM5/12/12
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When somebody makes a mistake and they feel bad, don't say: "Don't
beat your self up. Its not that bad. Stop thinking about it. Don't
worry about it. You're doing great. It'll get better. Now it feels
bad, but later you'll laugh at this." [Do you know any more of this
kind of sayings?]

Why don't these sayings work? Because they don't help the person
understand anything. Realize that the negative feeling is a symptom.
So what problem causes the symptom? Its the thought they are thinking.

So instead of those useless sayings, ask questions that cause the
person to answer by exposing those bad thoughts: "What thought did you
have that caused the negative feeling?" Then ask questions about that
thought. The resulting answers clearly show that the thought is wrong.
Then the person won't think those thoughts again.

For example, if the thought is: "Why did I make that mistake...what's
wrong with me?" Then ask: "That thought suggests that you think you
can't change. Do you think you can't change?" He'll say, No. Then you
can give an explanation of how personalities, habits, and knowledge
are not fixed. Then say: "So the questions you should ask yourself
are: 'what is the problem and how can I solve it?' and 'what habit can
I change?' These questions actually have answers to them and so you
can begin working towards solving your problem. Your original question
can not be answered, so its a useless question to ask."

Another example is the thought: "I made a mistake. I worry that I'll
look bad." Then ask: "What does 'look bad' mean? Do you think people
expect you to be perfect? Do they think you should never make
mistakes? Why do you care what other people think? Why should you care
what it looks like?"

Another example is the thought: "I made a mistake. I worry that I'll
lose the employee's trust." Then ask: "Do you think your employee will
think you are an incapable manager because you made a mistake? Compare
yourself to other managers. Haven't you already developed trust by
being a good person, being a good manager, and applying good
philosophy? Do you think a mistake erases all that?

Another example is the thought: "I made a mistake. I hope you're not
upset." Then ask: "Why would I be upset?" "Did the mistake cause us
to lose lots of money? Did somebody quit? Do they expect us to be
perfect? Do they think we should never make mistakes?"

Another example is the thought: "I made a mistake, and I thought
irrationally about it at first, and its because I'm fearful of
failure." Then ask: "That sounds like you're saying that your mistake
is big enough to cause our company to go under. The company will only
go under because of two reasons: 1) we stop improving or 2) an
exterior event that we don't have control over, like Verizon getting
rid of all its agents or Caterpillar moving their headquarters from
our town. Do you think that your mistake can cause our company could
go under?"

Another example is the thought: "I made a mistake, and I thought
irrationally about it at first, and its because I'm passionate about
things." Then ask: "That sounds like you're saying you expect to be
perfect. That you are trying to prevent all mistakes. Do you think
that is possible?"

Another example is the thought: "That sums up my anxiety issues I've
been having and its not just with you." Then say: "The *issue* is not
anxiety. Anxiety is a symptom. The *issue* is the problem causing the
symptom of anxiety. The problem is the thoughts you are thinking.
Instead of focusing on the symptom of anxiety, focus on the problem
which is your thoughts. So instead of asking, 'why am I having
anxiety?' ask 'what am I thinking that is causing the anxiety?' Then
question those thoughts. Continue questioning until you've revealed
the thought that is causing the anxiety. You'll know that you've
revealed it once the anxiety stops."

Then say: "Remember that all psychological problems are resultant from
a lack of knowledge."

Help? Criticism?

-- Rami

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 13, 2012, 3:04:57 AM5/13/12
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On 13.05.2012 04:51 Rami Rustom said the following:

...

> Then say: "Remember that all psychological problems are resultant from
> a lack of knowledge."
>
> Help? Criticism?
>
> -- Rami
>

Could you please apply your idea in the case when one have lost some
sport competition?

Evgenii

Rami Rustom

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May 13, 2012, 10:17:10 AM5/13/12
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So you are the coach of an athlete. And your athlete has lost a
competition and going into that competition he believed he would win,
based on history and whatever. Are you talking about the negative
feeling he had at the point at which he lost? Or are you talking about
the long drought of poor performance that followed that first loss?

If immediately after the loss he got angry and pouted, say:

I'd like to help you deal with this loss. Its important to put things
like this in context because if you don't, then your emotions can
negatively affect your performance in future competitions. So, why are
you upset? [Because I lost and I was supposed to win.] What do you
mean by, 'supposed to win'?. [I'm better than that guy.] Sure on your
best day, you'd beat him, but everyday is not your best day, right?
[Ya.] So today you made a mistake. Maybe the mistake was due to not
sleeping well last night, or you didn't have time for breakfast, or
you're focused on your girlfriend cheating on you, or nothing at all
and you just made a mistake and the other guy took that opportunity to
win. [...] So going into this competition, did you think you'd never
make a mistake? [No.] Did you think that the other guy is the only one
that could make mistakes? [Of course not.] So with any competition,
you could lose, and it doesn't matter whether or not you are better
than the other guy... there's always the chance that you'll lose.
Right? [Sure.] So you saw this coming... so what are you upset about?
[Well I never thought about it that way.] To never make mistakes, is
impossible... so trying to be perfect is pointless. What is important
is to always improve... by always applying error correction methods
[this needs lots more explanation]. Realize that you can not apply
error correction methods if you're upset about making a mistake. So by
getting upset about your mistakes, you are creating a barrier to
improvement.

If your athlete is in a slump, i.e. his performance has decreased
dramatically over a long period starting from a situation similar to
the above story, say:

What are you focusing on? [I don't want to make mistakes.] If you
focus on "not making mistakes", then you're not focusing on the right
activity that would produce good results. You're focusing on "not"
doing something, rather than on "doing" something. Often, when people
focus on "not" making mistakes, they also focus on what would happen
if they do make mistakes. They play in their mind all the things that
would happen if they do make a mistake. They worry about what their
coach, team members, friends and family will say. This will surely
produce more mistakes because they are not focused on the right
activity and instead they are focused on the repercussions of making a
mistake.

...

BTW, I'd like to make clear that my fist post might make it seem that
one discussion is enough to help someone solve their psychological
problem. But that has not been my experience. The person can often
hide some of their thoughts, which of course means that you can not
question those thoughts in order to help them understand what is wrong
with those thoughts. Or the person doesn't know the real ideas causing
his emotions, which means that his subconscious knows it, but his
conscious doesn't know it, i.e. he is not aware of those ideas. With
each discussion, you should be able to create new questions that
eventually reveal those hidden thoughts. In the case of one of my
employees, I've had an uncountable number of discussions with him
about this stuff and each time I create new revealing questions that
help him expose hidden thoughts.

-- Rami

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 15, 2012, 1:17:14 PM5/15/12
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On 13.05.2012 16:17 Rami Rustom said the following:
> On Sun, May 13, 2012 at 2:04 AM, Evgenii Rudnyi<use...@rudnyi.ru> wrote:
>> On 13.05.2012 04:51 Rami Rustom said the following:
>>
>> ...
>>
>>
>>> Then say: "Remember that all psychological problems are resultant from
>>> a lack of knowledge."
>>>
>>> Help? Criticism?
>>>
>>> -- Rami
>>>
>>
>> Could you please apply your idea in the case when one have lost some sport
>> competition?
>
> So you are the coach of an athlete. And your athlete has lost a
> competition and going into that competition he believed he would win,
> based on history and whatever. Are you talking about the negative
> feeling he had at the point at which he lost? Or are you talking about
> the long drought of poor performance that followed that first loss?

It is up to you. I just wanted to see how you will apply your conclusion

"Remember that all psychological problems are resultant from a lack of
knowledge."

in the case when two persons compete with each other. It is still
unclear to me as in your full answer in your message you seem not to
rely on it any more.

Evgenii

Rami Rustom

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May 15, 2012, 2:16:26 PM5/15/12
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I don't know what you mean. What is the hypothetical situation you are thinking of?

There are two athletes competing. Are you saying that one or both of them are having psychological problems? And you want me to describe the possible lack of knowledge that is causing the problem?

-- Rami

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 15, 2012, 2:56:48 PM5/15/12
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On 15.05.2012 20:16 Rami Rustom said the following:
> On Tue, May 15, 2012 at 12:17 PM, Evgenii Rudnyi<use...@rudnyi.ru> wrote:

...

>> It is up to you. I just wanted to see how you will apply your conclusion
>>
>>
>> "Remember that all psychological problems are resultant from a lack of
>> knowledge."
>>
>> in the case when two persons compete with each other. It is still unclear
>> to me as in your full answer in your message you seem not to rely on it any
>> more.
>>
>
> I don't know what you mean. What is the hypothetical situation you are
> thinking of?
>
> There are two athletes competing. Are you saying that one or both of them
> are having psychological problems? And you want me to describe the possible
> lack of knowledge that is causing the problem?
>
> -- Rami
>


I just was thinking how to apply your conclusion in the case of
competition. Let us imagine that one athlete has lost and another has
won. This is what happens in sport. An alternative would be when two
person were fighting for some position (for example a professor). One
has got the position and another has lost.

The question would be how to apply your conclusion about a lack of
knowledge in this case. It seems to me that this will not work in such a
situation.

Evgenii

Rami Rustom

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May 15, 2012, 3:45:54 PM5/15/12
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Why not?

Lets first define the psychological problem. Its a problem that the
person has that causes negative emotions and they haven't been able to
solve it over a long period of time.

You might be talking about a negative emotion that comes and goes
quickly. I'm not classifying those moments as psychological problems
because there is no *problem*.

So in your hypothetical situation, do you mean that the negative
feelings are persisting over a long period of time?

-- Rami

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 17, 2012, 3:34:21 AM5/17/12
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On 15.05.2012 21:45 Rami Rustom said the following:
> On Tue, May 15, 2012 at 1:56 PM, Evgenii Rudnyi<use...@rudnyi.ru> wrote:

...

>> I just was thinking how to apply your conclusion in the case of competition.
>> Let us imagine that one athlete has lost and another has won. This is what
>> happens in sport. An alternative would be when two person were fighting for
>> some position (for example a professor). One has got the position and
>> another has lost.
>>
>> The question would be how to apply your conclusion about a lack of knowledge
>> in this case. It seems to me that this will not work in such a situation.
>
> Why not?
>
> Lets first define the psychological problem. Its a problem that the
> person has that causes negative emotions and they haven't been able to
> solve it over a long period of time.
>
> You might be talking about a negative emotion that comes and goes
> quickly. I'm not classifying those moments as psychological problems
> because there is no *problem*.
>
> So in your hypothetical situation, do you mean that the negative
> feelings are persisting over a long period of time?

Let me try it this way. Say there is a person with a strong character
who knows perfectly that

"Remember that all psychological problems are resultant from a lack of
knowledge."

He also knows the latest scientific discoveries and latest good
explanations. Still, he has lost and now he introspects the event and
thinks it over.

He checks all the steps that he has made before the event and during the
event. Everything was according to good explanations. He has made
everything correctly, exactly as he should have done it.

The only reason, according to his analysis, seems to be that his
opponent was just better. The final conclusion is that presumably his
opponent has a better mixture of genes and future fights are meaningless.

This is however a very depressive conclusion and finally the person
commits suicide.

Evgenii

Alan Forrester

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May 17, 2012, 4:11:38 AM5/17/12
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You say that he analysed the sporting event, cycling say, and came up with a good explanation for what went wrong. You then say his opponent was "just better", which is a bad explanation because nobody is "just better" than anybody else at anything, rather one person is better than another in some specific respect that makes the difference between winning and losing. The difference might be that the winning cyclist is better at keeping his balance and can lean more into a turn and turn corners faster. This can't be genetic because there are no genes for bicycle riding, even if there are genes for having a more sensitive inner ear. The winner had to develop the knowledge to concentrate on some things at the expense of others. So the gene thing is also a bad explanation.

> This is however a very depressive conclusion and finally the person commits suicide.

Let's say that the person concerned concludes that he doesn't want to be the world's best cyclist anymore despite having spent 20 years on trying to do it. He could learn how to do something else, or he could become a cycling coach or whatever. The only reason why he would commit suicide is that he has some knowledge that indicates that it is a good idea: this knowledge is, in most suicidal people, an anti-rational meme.

Alan

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 17, 2012, 7:25:22 AM5/17/12
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On 17.05.2012 10:11 Alan Forrester said the following:
> On 17 May 2012, at 08:34, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

...

> You say that he analysed the sporting event, cycling say, and came up
> with a good explanation for what went wrong. You then say his
> opponent was "just better", which is a bad explanation because nobody
> is "just better" than anybody else at anything, rather one person is
> better than another in some specific respect that makes the
> difference between winning and losing. The difference might be that
> the winning cyclist is better at keeping his balance and can lean
> more into a turn and turn corners faster. This can't be genetic
> because there are no genes for bicycle riding, even if there are
> genes for having a more sensitive inner ear. The winner had to
> develop the knowledge to concentrate on some things at the expense of
> others. So the gene thing is also a bad explanation.

"A bad explanation" is just an expression that proves nothing. Whether
ability for a good sport is determined by genes or not, I do not know.
Yet, it seems to be plausible from what biologists say.

I would say that to take a positive position, one should believe that
he/she possess free will that would allow him to achieve better results.
Yet, modern natural sciences are skeptical in this respect.

>> This is however a very depressive conclusion and finally the person
>> commits suicide.
>
> Let's say that the person concerned concludes that he doesn't want to
> be the world's best cyclist anymore despite having spent 20 years on
> trying to do it. He could learn how to do something else, or he could
> become a cycling coach or whatever. The only reason why he would
> commit suicide is that he has some knowledge that indicates that it
> is a good idea: this knowledge is, in most suicidal people, an
> anti-rational meme.

This is exactly what science says, that everything is determined by
replication of genes and memes and free will of a person plays no role.
Hence, suicide could be even a good solution to prevent that bad meme to
be replicated.

Evgenii

P.S. What keeps the suicide meme to be replicated? Some bad genes?

Rami Rustom

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May 17, 2012, 12:49:35 PM5/17/12
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On Thu, May 17, 2012 at 6:25 AM, Evgenii Rudnyi <use...@rudnyi.ru> wrote:
> On 17.05.2012 10:11 Alan Forrester said the following:
>> On 17 May 2012, at 08:34, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
>
> ...
>
>
>> You say that he analysed the sporting event, cycling say, and came up
>> with a good explanation for what went wrong. You then say his
>> opponent was "just better", which is a bad explanation because nobody
>> is "just better" than anybody else at anything, rather one person is
>> better than another in some specific respect that makes the
>> difference between winning and losing. The difference might be that
>> the winning cyclist is better at keeping his balance and can lean
>> more into a turn and turn corners faster. This can't be genetic
>> because there are no genes for bicycle riding, even if there are
>> genes for having a more sensitive inner ear. The winner had to
>> develop the knowledge to concentrate on some things at the expense of
>> others. So the gene thing is also a bad explanation.
>
>
> "A bad explanation" is just an expression that proves nothing.

Alan used the expression 'bad explanation' in reference to your 'just
better' argument. I agree that its a 'bad explanation'. What does
'just better' mean? What does it explain exactly?


> Whether
> ability for a good sport is determined by genes or not, I do not know. Yet,
> it seems to be plausible from what biologists say.

Ability for success in sports involves many things. Genes are
involved. And so are choices. And other stuff. What are you saying
that biologists say?


> I would say that to take a positive position, one should believe that he/she
> possess free will that would allow him to achieve better results. Yet,
> modern natural sciences are skeptical in this respect.

Says who? Please post a link to a research paper with page numbers.


>>> This is however a very depressive conclusion and finally the person
>>> commits suicide.
>>
>>
>> Let's say that the person concerned concludes that he doesn't want to
>> be the world's best cyclist anymore despite having spent 20 years on
>> trying to do it. He could learn how to do something else, or he could
>> become a cycling coach or whatever. The only reason why he would
>> commit suicide is that he has some knowledge that indicates that it
>> is a good idea: this knowledge is, in most suicidal people, an
>> anti-rational meme.
>
>
> This is exactly what science says, that everything is determined by
> replication of genes and memes and free will of a person plays no role.
> Hence, suicide could be even a good solution to prevent that bad meme to be
> replicated.

How do you think genes and memes are passed? Realize that someone can
choose not to pass genes and memes.

In the case of genes, say you learned that your unborn child has a
terminal illness and could die at 20 years old. You could choose to
abort. That would prevent those bad genes from replicating. Or you
could choose to keep the child and he could have more kids and
possibly pass those genes to the gene pool as you did.

In the case of memes, people can choose to pay attention to their
problems. Say you get angry when stuff doesn't go exactly as you
planned it. You could choose to reflect on this. You could figure out
what is causing your anger; on your own or with the help of friends,
family, or counselors. Once you've figured it out, you no longer get
angry when stuff doesn't go exactly as you planned it. Or you could
choose to do nothing and continue getting angry in such situations.
Then you could choose to have children. Then you'll have passed on
that anti-rational meme to your child. So he'll get angry when stuff
doesn't go exactly as he planned. And he could choose to fix that or
he can pass the same bad meme to his child.


> P.S. What keeps the suicide meme to be replicated? Some bad genes?

No. Genes can't *know* a complex idea like suicide. Or maybe you mean
that there are memes that cause people to be sad and that eventually
results in a suicide. Either way, its bad choices that cause memes to
replicate. Genes can't possibly understand complex things like memes.

-- Rami

Alan Forrester

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May 17, 2012, 3:07:27 PM5/17/12
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On 17 May 2012, at 12:25, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

> On 17.05.2012 10:11 Alan Forrester said the following:
> > On 17 May 2012, at 08:34, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
>
> ...
>
>> You say that he analysed the sporting event, cycling say, and came up
>> with a good explanation for what went wrong. You then say his
>> opponent was "just better", which is a bad explanation because nobody
>> is "just better" than anybody else at anything, rather one person is
>> better than another in some specific respect that makes the
>> difference between winning and losing. The difference might be that
>> the winning cyclist is better at keeping his balance and can lean
>> more into a turn and turn corners faster. This can't be genetic
>> because there are no genes for bicycle riding, even if there are
>> genes for having a more sensitive inner ear. The winner had to
>> develop the knowledge to concentrate on some things at the expense of
>> others. So the gene thing is also a bad explanation.
>
> "A bad explanation" is just an expression that proves nothing.

No argument proves anything. You have bad epistemological ideas. I would advise you to read BoI and "Realism and the Aim of Science" by Karl Popper.

Explaining that an idea is a bad explanation is a substantive criticism of that idea.

> Whether ability for a good sport is determined by genes or not, I do not know. Yet, it seems to be plausible from what biologists say.

There are no genes for bicycle riding or for any other behaviour. Genes provide the hardware for cultural evolution, but they change far too slowly for them to be responsible for any cultural evolution. All cultural knowledge, including knowledge of how to ride bicycles, is instantiated in memes. Genetic diseases could cause some people to be unable to do certain things. It seems somewhat doubtful that somebody with harlequin icthyosis could be a champion bicycle rider. But even here, such a person will be unable to ride a bicycle skillfully only up to the time when we invent a good enough cure or treatment for his disease, and likewise for other genetic diseases. So limitations imposed by genes are parochial.

> I would say that to take a positive position, one should believe that he/she possess free will that would allow him to achieve better results. Yet, modern natural sciences are skeptical in this respect.

Wrong, see below.

>>> This is however a very depressive conclusion and finally the person
>>> commits suicide.
>>
>> Let's say that the person concerned concludes that he doesn't want to
>> be the world's best cyclist anymore despite having spent 20 years on
>> trying to do it. He could learn how to do something else, or he could
>> become a cycling coach or whatever. The only reason why he would
>> commit suicide is that he has some knowledge that indicates that it
>> is a good idea: this knowledge is, in most suicidal people, an
>> anti-rational meme.
>
> This is exactly what science says, that everything is determined by replication of genes and memes and free will of a person plays no role. Hence, suicide could be even a good solution to prevent that bad meme to be replicated.

Science doesn't say we lack free will. You are a bunch of memes so it doesn't make sense to say your memes force you to do stuff. What knowledge you develop depends on your choices. That knowledge affects what you do and so affect what happens to you. You can make choices and affect the future.

> Evgenii
>
> P.S. What keeps the suicide meme to be replicated? Some bad genes?

There isn't a gene for suicide, just as other behaviour isn't caused by memes, and there couldn't be a gene for suicide anyway because its holders would not pass on the gene as well as non-suicide genes. The person with the suicide gene would be expending time and energy on committing suicide that could be spent on doing something that would lead to his children being able to pass on their genes better, or to having more children or something like that. By contrast, suicide need not get in the way of meme replication since memes can be passed on by people learning stuff. The vast majority of suicide memes replicate by destroying the capacity of the person who adopts them to criticise them.

Alan

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 18, 2012, 2:53:41 PM5/18/12
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On 17.05.2012 18:49 Rami Rustom said the following:
> On Thu, May 17, 2012 at 6:25 AM, Evgenii Rudnyi<use...@rudnyi.ru>
> wrote:
>> On 17.05.2012 10:11 Alan Forrester said the following:

...

>>
>> "A bad explanation" is just an expression that proves nothing.
>
> Alan used the expression 'bad explanation' in reference to your
> 'just better' argument. I agree that its a 'bad explanation'. What
> does 'just better' mean? What does it explain exactly?

It explains that a winner in a fair competition was just better than the
others. I do not understand why this is a bad explanation.


>> Whether ability for a good sport is determined by genes or not, I
>> do not know. Yet, it seems to be plausible from what biologists
>> say.
>
> Ability for success in sports involves many things. Genes are
> involved. And so are choices. And other stuff. What are you saying
> that biologists say?

For example RICHARD DAWKINS

http://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_9.html

"But doesn't a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system
make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or
not? Any crime, however heinous, is in principle to be blamed on
antecedent conditions acting through the accused's physiology, heredity
and environment. Don't judicial hearings to decide questions of blame or
diminished responsibility make as little sense for a faulty man as for a
Fawlty car?"

"Why is it that we humans find it almost impossible to accept such
conclusions? Why do we vent such visceral hatred on child murderers, or
on thuggish vandals, when we should simply regard them as faulty units
that need fixing or replacing? Presumably because mental constructs like
blame and responsibility, indeed evil and good, are built into our
brains by millennia of Darwinian evolution. Assigning blame and
responsibility is an aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents
that we construct in our brains as a means of short-cutting a truer
analysis of what is going on in the world in which we have to live. My
dangerous idea is that we shall eventually grow out of all this and even
learn to laugh at it, just as we laugh at Basil Fawlty when he beats his
car. But I fear it is unlikely that I shall ever reach that level of
enlightenment."

>> I would say that to take a positive position, one should believe
>> that he/she possess free will that would allow him to achieve
>> better results. Yet, modern natural sciences are skeptical in this
>> respect.
>
> Says who? Please post a link to a research paper with page numbers.

Let us start with Dawkins above. Then Stephen Hawking in his Grand Design

�It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is
determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than
biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.�

Also you can take neuroscience

Soon, CS, Brass, M, Heinze, HJ, and Haynes, JD (2008).
Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain.
Nat Neurosci.

You can also look at what John-Dylan Haynes popularizes in this respect.

Finally philosophers

Derk Pereboom, Living Without Free Will

Well, if you look around you what natural sciences say about free will,
you will find much much more.

...

> In the case of memes, people can choose to pay attention to their
> problems. Say you get angry when stuff doesn't go exactly as you
> planned it. You could choose to reflect on this. You could figure
> out what is causing your anger; on your own or with the help of
> friends, family, or counselors. Once you've figured it out, you no
> longer get angry when stuff doesn't go exactly as you planned it. Or
> you could choose to do nothing and continue getting angry in such
> situations. Then you could choose to have children. Then you'll have
> passed on that anti-rational meme to your child. So he'll get angry
> when stuff doesn't go exactly as he planned. And he could choose to
> fix that or he can pass the same bad meme to his child.

If we can choose our decisions by ourselves, then the meme theory does
not make much sense.

>> P.S. What keeps the suicide meme to be replicated? Some bad genes?
>
> No. Genes can't *know* a complex idea like suicide. Or maybe you
> mean that there are memes that cause people to be sad and that
> eventually results in a suicide. Either way, its bad choices that
> cause memes to replicate. Genes can't possibly understand complex
> things like memes.

Well, I meant following. Let us imagine that there is anti-rational
"make suicide" meme. Then after the person implements the meme in its
behavior, it is hard to imagine, how the meme could be further
replicated. Then, in my view, there should be some other mechanism for
such a behavior.

Evgenii
--
http://blog.rudnyi.ru

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 18, 2012, 3:10:07 PM5/18/12
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On 17.05.2012 21:07 Alan Forrester said the following:
>
> On 17 May 2012, at 12:25, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
>

>>
>> "A bad explanation" is just an expression that proves nothing.
>
> No argument proves anything. You have bad epistemological ideas. I
> would advise you to read BoI and "Realism and the Aim of Science" by
> Karl Popper.
>
> Explaining that an idea is a bad explanation is a substantive
> criticism of that idea.

First the last statement is just an exercise in rhetoric to demonstrate
your intellectual superiority.

Second, have you explained why my explanation was bad and your good one?

I listen to Beginning of Infinity but David Deutsch just states there
that what he does not like is a bad explanation without further
discussions. It does not look like as a skeptical inquiry, exactly as
your reply to my explanation.

>> Whether ability for a good sport is determined by genes or not, I
>> do not know. Yet, it seems to be plausible from what biologists
>> say.
>
> There are no genes for bicycle riding or for any other behaviour.

Is this your opinion, or this has been scientifically proved? If yes,
could you please cite the works that proved this?

...

>> This is exactly what science says, that everything is determined by
>> replication of genes and memes and free will of a person plays no
>> role. Hence, suicide could be even a good solution to prevent that
>> bad meme to be replicated.
>
> Science doesn't say we lack free will. You are a bunch of memes so it
> doesn't make sense to say your memes force you to do stuff. What
> knowledge you develop depends on your choices. That knowledge affects
> what you do and so affect what happens to you. You can make choices
> and affect the future.

Please look at the scientific sources that I have given in my reply to
Rami. Then you will see that this is exactly what science says, that is,
free will is illusion.

...

>> P.S. What keeps the suicide meme to be replicated? Some bad genes?
>
> There isn't a gene for suicide, just as other behaviour isn't caused
> by memes, and there couldn't be a gene for suicide anyway because its
> holders would not pass on the gene as well as non-suicide genes. The
> person with the suicide gene would be expending time and energy on
> committing suicide that could be spent on doing something that would
> lead to his children being able to pass on their genes better, or to
> having more children or something like that. By contrast, suicide
> need not get in the way of meme replication since memes can be passed
> on by people learning stuff. The vast majority of suicide memes
> replicate by destroying the capacity of the person who adopts them to
> criticise them.

The last sentence implies that there is no free will and memes decide
exclusively what a person should do. It seems to contradict to what you
have said above.

Evgenii

Rami Rustom

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May 18, 2012, 3:22:56 PM5/18/12
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On Fri, May 18, 2012 at 1:53 PM, Evgenii Rudnyi <use...@rudnyi.ru> wrote:
> On 17.05.2012 18:49 Rami Rustom said the following:
>> On Thu, May 17, 2012 at 6:25 AM, Evgenii Rudnyi<use...@rudnyi.ru>
>> wrote:
>>> On 17.05.2012 10:11 Alan Forrester said the following:
>
>
> ...
>
>
>>>
>>> "A bad explanation" is just an expression that proves nothing.
>>
>>
>> Alan used the expression 'bad explanation' in reference to your
>> 'just better' argument. I agree that its a 'bad explanation'. What
>> does 'just better' mean? What does it explain exactly?
>
>
> It explains that a winner in a fair competition was just better than the
> others. I do not understand why this is a bad explanation.

Its a bad explanation because it doesn't explain *why* the guy is better.


>>> Whether ability for a good sport is determined by genes or not, I
>>> do not know. Yet, it seems to be plausible from what biologists
>>> say.
>>
>>
>> Ability for success in sports involves many things. Genes are
>> involved. And so are choices. And other stuff. What are you saying
>> that biologists say?
>
>
> For example RICHARD DAWKINS

Why the caps? Are you suggesting that if a famous biologist said it,
then it MUST be true? If so, you're mistaken. Humans are fallible.
That means than any one of our ideas could be mistaken. That means
that even Richard Dawkins could be mistaken about an idea within his
field of study.

Oh and by the way, morality is not his field of study.


> http://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_9.html
>
> "But doesn't a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make
> nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not? Any
> crime, however heinous, is in principle to be blamed on antecedent
> conditions acting through the accused's physiology, heredity and
> environment. Don't judicial hearings to decide questions of blame or
> diminished responsibility make as little sense for a faulty man as for a
> Fawlty car?"

That is a bad explanation. It applies bad reductionism. This has been
refuted by Karl Popper in _Objective Knowledge_. He might have written
another book that explains it more fully. Does anybody know?

I think BoI also explains that bad reductionism is a mistake. There is
a huge jump in between levels of universality that results in the
reality of human choice. And Dawkin's explanation doesn't respect that
huge jump. He glazes over it as though it didn't matter. And this
philosophical mistake renders his explanation wrong.


> "Why is it that we humans find it almost impossible to accept such
> conclusions? Why do we vent such visceral hatred on child murderers, or on
> thuggish vandals, when we should simply regard them as faulty units that
> need fixing or replacing? Presumably because mental constructs like blame
> and responsibility, indeed evil and good, are built into our brains by
> millennia of Darwinian evolution. Assigning blame and responsibility is an
> aspect of the useful fiction of intentional agents that we construct in our
> brains as a means of short-cutting a truer analysis of what is going on in
> the world in which we have to live. My dangerous idea is that we shall
> eventually grow out of all this and even learn to laugh at it, just as we
> laugh at Basil Fawlty when he beats his car. But I fear it is unlikely that
> I shall ever reach that level of enlightenment."
>
>
>>> I would say that to take a positive position, one should believe
>>> that he/she possess free will that would allow him to achieve
>>> better results. Yet, modern natural sciences are skeptical in this
>>> respect.
>>
>>
>> Says who? Please post a link to a research paper with page numbers.
>
>
> Let us start with Dawkins above. Then Stephen Hawking in his Grand Design
>
> “It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is
> determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological
> machines and that free will is just an illusion.”

Its only hard to imagine because he doesn't understand universality.
Fortunately we have BoI.


> Also you can take neuroscience

I've read some cognitive neuroscience in David Eagleman's _Incognito:
The Secret Lives of the Brain_ and I've found the same mistakes in his
explanations.


> Soon, CS, Brass, M, Heinze, HJ, and Haynes, JD (2008).
> Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain.
> Nat Neurosci.
>
> You can also look at what John-Dylan Haynes popularizes in this respect.
>
> Finally philosophers
>
> Derk Pereboom, Living Without Free Will

I haven't read this. Has anybody read this?


> Well, if you look around you what natural sciences say about free will, you
> will find much much more.

*More* publications claiming X is true, doesn't make X true.


> ...
>
>
>> In the case of memes, people can choose to pay attention to their
>> problems. Say you get angry when stuff doesn't go exactly as you
>> planned it. You could choose to reflect on this. You could figure
>> out what is causing your anger; on your own or with the help of
>> friends, family, or counselors. Once you've figured it out, you no
>> longer get angry when stuff doesn't go exactly as you planned it. Or
>> you could choose to do nothing and continue getting angry in such
>> situations. Then you could choose to have children. Then you'll have
>> passed on that anti-rational meme to your child. So he'll get angry
>> when stuff doesn't go exactly as he planned. And he could choose to
>> fix that or he can pass the same bad meme to his child.
>
>
> If we can choose our decisions by ourselves, then the meme theory does not
> make much sense.

Why do you think so? It makes sense to me. Please explain the
contradiction that you see.


>>> P.S. What keeps the suicide meme to be replicated? Some bad genes?
>>
>>
>> No. Genes can't *know* a complex idea like suicide. Or maybe you
>> mean that there are memes that cause people to be sad and that
>> eventually results in a suicide. Either way, its bad choices that
>> cause memes to replicate. Genes can't possibly understand complex
>> things like memes.
>
>
> Well, I meant following. Let us imagine that there is anti-rational "make
> suicide" meme. Then after the person implements the meme in its behavior, it
> is hard to imagine, how the meme could be further replicated. Then, in my
> view, there should be some other mechanism for such a behavior.

His kid could have learned that meme from him *before* he committed suicide.

-- Rami

Alan Forrester

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May 18, 2012, 3:39:14 PM5/18/12
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On 18 May 2012, at 20:10, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

> On 17.05.2012 21:07 Alan Forrester said the following:
>>
>> On 17 May 2012, at 12:25, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
>>
>
>>>
>>> "A bad explanation" is just an expression that proves nothing.
>>
>> No argument proves anything. You have bad epistemological ideas. I
>> would advise you to read BoI and "Realism and the Aim of Science" by
>> Karl Popper.
>>
>> Explaining that an idea is a bad explanation is a substantive
>> criticism of that idea.
>
> First the last statement is just an exercise in rhetoric to demonstrate your intellectual superiority.
>
> Second, have you explained why my explanation was bad and your good one?
>
> I listen to Beginning of Infinity but David Deutsch just states there that what he does not like is a bad explanation without further discussions. It does not look like as a skeptical inquiry, exactly as your reply to my explanation.

Let's set all the other issues aside for the moment because the issue of explanation is the central issue.

Do you think that an argument to the effect that a particular idea is a bad explanation is a criticism of that idea?

If not, what criterion do you propose for deciding which ideas we should adopt and which ideas we should discard?

Alan

David Deutsch

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May 18, 2012, 3:41:31 PM5/18/12
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On 18 May 2012, at 8:10pm, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

> I listen to Beginning of Infinity but David Deutsch just states there that what he does not like is a bad explanation

Where?

-- David Deutsch

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 19, 2012, 6:18:00 AM5/19/12
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On 18.05.2012 21:22 Rami Rustom said the following:
> On Fri, May 18, 2012 at 1:53 PM, Evgenii Rudnyi<use...@rudnyi.ru>

...

>> It explains that a winner in a fair competition was just better
>> than the others. I do not understand why this is a bad
>> explanation.
>
> Its a bad explanation because it doesn't explain *why* the guy is
> better.

I am not sure if I understand what does it mean to "explain *why* the
guy is better". Could you please give an example of a good explanation
in this respect?

...

>> For example RICHARD DAWKINS
>
> Why the caps? Are you suggesting that if a famous biologist said it,
> then it MUST be true?

No, I was just to lazy to type his name and have cut and pasted his name
from the link.

...

>> Well, if you look around you what natural sciences say about free
>> will, you will find much much more.
>
> *More* publications claiming X is true, doesn't make X true.

I agree but my point was not that "free will is illusion" is true. I
have just shown that such a viewpoint enjoys a widespread use in modern
sciences.

...

>> If we can choose our decisions by ourselves, then the meme theory
>> does not make much sense.
>
> Why do you think so? It makes sense to me. Please explain the
> contradiction that you see.

If I have understood the meme theory correctly, it requires that memes
exist and replicate objectively. If a person could choose whether he
reproduces a meme consciously, then it is unclear to me what is left
from the meme theory.

I should confess that I have just learned about the meme theory from the
audio-version of Beginning of Infinity, so it well might be that my
understanding of the meme theory is incomplete.

Do you mean that the meme theory is compatible with free will of a person?

...

>> Well, I meant following. Let us imagine that there is anti-rational
>> "make suicide" meme. Then after the person implements the meme in
>> its behavior, it is hard to imagine, how the meme could be further
>> replicated. Then, in my view, there should be some other mechanism
>> for such a behavior.
>
> His kid could have learned that meme from him *before* he committed
> suicide.

Again, if I have understood correctly, the meme replication requires

1) coping
2) behavior pattern

If I remember correctly according to the book only coping is not enough.

Evgenii

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 19, 2012, 6:26:08 AM5/19/12
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On 18.05.2012 21:39 Alan Forrester said the following:

...

> Let's set all the other issues aside for the moment because the issue
> of explanation is the central issue.
>
> Do you think that an argument to the effect that a particular idea is
> a bad explanation is a criticism of that idea?

I would say so. Good vs. bad, better vs. worse, good guys fighting evil,
these are associations arising in my mind when I hear "good explanation."

> If not, what criterion do you propose for deciding which ideas we
> should adopt and which ideas we should discard?

I am afraid that each individual with free will should find the answer
on his/her own. As for scientific method, I am personally comfortable
with Feyerabend's Anything goes.

Evgenii

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 19, 2012, 7:02:09 AM5/19/12
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On 18.05.2012 21:41 David Deutsch said the following:
I listen to the audio book and I might have missed important points but
emotionally I would say that this has happened many times in the book.

You are right though that I must be specific. I will document below
several points now, say at the emotional level. To give more a rational
answer I have to listen to your book again.

1) How to distinguish a good explanation from a bad one?

It seems that there was no a description of an objective scientific
procedure how to solve this problem.

My feeling is that at the end as usually, each will claim that his/her
explanation is good one and the rest is composed of bad explanations. In
this respect, I would say "good vs. bad" raises emotions. In my view,
"my hypothesis vs. other's hypothesis" would be more neutral.

2) Static vs. dynamic society

It seems that your desire for a dynamic society (especially the term
"good explanation" in this context) would justify the elimination of
Indians in the USA.

Or if we take Avatar by Cameron, the fight against Na'vi is then
completely the right one, as the Universe does not need static societies.

3) Born of modern science as a fight against religion

This contradicts to historical facts. According to Prof Maarten Hoenen,
an expert in middle ages, science and theology were rather like a
brother and a sister.

Moreover, according to Collingwood (An Essay in Metaphysics), absolute
presuppositions employed in modern science are quite similar to those in
Christianity. Monotheism was replaced by inexorable laws and trinity
helped to believe that human mind can understand these inexorable laws.

Evgenii


Alan Forrester

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May 19, 2012, 7:13:48 AM5/19/12
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On 19 May 2012, at 11:26, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

> On 18.05.2012 21:39 Alan Forrester said the following:
>
> ...
>
>> Let's set all the other issues aside for the moment because the issue
>> of explanation is the central issue.
>>
>> Do you think that an argument to the effect that a particular idea is
>> a bad explanation is a criticism of that idea?
>
> I would say so. Good vs. bad, better vs. worse, good guys fighting evil, these are associations arising in my mind when I hear "good explanation."

If an idea is a bad explanation is it objectively flawed?

>> If not, what criterion do you propose for deciding which ideas we
>> should adopt and which ideas we should discard?
>
> I am afraid that each individual with free will should find the answer on his/her own.

Do you think that some standards are objectively better than others?

> As for scientific method, I am personally comfortable with Feyerabend's Anything goes.

What substantive difference is there between Popper and Feyerabend that makes you think Feyerabend is better?

Alan

Rami Rustom

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May 19, 2012, 8:44:31 AM5/19/12
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On Sat, May 19, 2012 at 5:18 AM, Evgenii Rudnyi <use...@rudnyi.ru> wrote:
> On 18.05.2012 21:22 Rami Rustom said the following:
>> On Fri, May 18, 2012 at 1:53 PM, Evgenii Rudnyi<use...@rudnyi.ru>
>
>
> ...
>
>
>>> It explains that a winner in a fair competition was just better
>>> than the others. I do not understand why this is a bad
>>> explanation.
>>
>>
>> Its a bad explanation because it doesn't explain *why* the guy is
>> better.
>
>
> I am not sure if I understand what does it mean to "explain *why* the guy is
> better". Could you please give an example of a good explanation in this
> respect?

Alan gave a good one earlier. I've included it below and I've
underscored the specific part that is a possible explanation for why
he is better.

> You say that he analysed the sporting event, cycling say, and came up with a good explanation for what went wrong. You then say his opponent was "just better", which is a bad explanation because nobody is "just better" than anybody else at anything, rather one person is better than another in some specific respect that makes the difference between winning and losing. _The difference might be that the winning cyclist is better at keeping his balance and can lean more into a turn and turn corners faster._ This can't be genetic because there are no genes for bicycle riding, even if there are genes for having a more sensitive inner ear. The winner had to develop the knowledge to concentrate on some things at the expense of others. So the gene thing is also a bad explanation.


>>> Well, if you look around you what natural sciences say about free
>>> will, you will find much much more.
>>
>>
>> *More* publications claiming X is true, doesn't make X true.
>
>
> I agree but my point was not that "free will is illusion" is true. I have
> just shown that such a viewpoint enjoys a widespread use in modern sciences.

The fact that you think that you should show that a viewpoint enjoys a
widespread use in modern sciences *suggests* that you believe that
*more* widespread adoption that X is true, means that X is true. Of
course I could be wrong.


> ...
>
>
>>> If we can choose our decisions by ourselves, then the meme theory
>>> does not make much sense.
>>
>>
>> Why do you think so? It makes sense to me. Please explain the
>> contradiction that you see.
>
>
> If I have understood the meme theory correctly, it requires that memes exist
> and replicate objectively. If a person could choose whether he reproduces a
> meme consciously, then it is unclear to me what is left from the meme
> theory.
>
> I should confess that I have just learned about the meme theory from the
> audio-version of Beginning of Infinity, so it well might be that my
> understanding of the meme theory is incomplete.
>
> Do you mean that the meme theory is compatible with free will of a person?


Ah. Consider that we have habits, many of which we are not aware of,
that we learned from our parents and society. Nor are we aware of the
consequences of those habits, i.e. we do not know they are bad. These
are our bad memes.

For example lets say a daughter makes a mess in the living room. And
her dad asked her to clean up. And she doesn't because she doesn't
understand *why* she should clean up. And lets say the dad has a habit
[that he learned from his parents] of explaining, "Jane, we have
visitors coming soon and it'll be very embarrassing for us if they see
this mess, so could you please clean up so that we don't get
embarrassed?" This passes on a bad meme that explains that people
should care what other people think. Now lets say that daughter read
BoI and joined this list. And she learned meme theory and this
specific example I just gave. And so she is now aware of that habit
she has and the consequences of it, i.e. that she could pass that meme
to her kids. So she consciously pays attention to her words going
forward and she never uses that bad explanation again. And so she
doesn't pass that meme to her kids.

The point is that there was free will involved in stopped the meme
from replicating.

By the way, the child could prevent a meme from replicating to himself
too. He may disagree with the parent's bad explanation. This happens a
lot. But it only happens if the child successfully criticized the
parents explanation [in his mind] to the point of considering it a bad
one.


> ...
>
>
>>> Well, I meant following. Let us imagine that there is anti-rational
>>> "make suicide" meme. Then after the person implements the meme in
>>> its behavior, it is hard to imagine, how the meme could be further
>>> replicated. Then, in my view, there should be some other mechanism
>>> for such a behavior.
>>
>>
>> His kid could have learned that meme from him *before* he committed
>> suicide.
>
>
> Again, if I have understood correctly, the meme replication requires
>
> 1) coping
> 2) behavior pattern
>
> If I remember correctly according to the book only coping is not enough.

I don't know what your asking.

-- Rami

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 19, 2012, 1:41:32 PM5/19/12
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On 19.05.2012 13:13 Alan Forrester said the following:
>
> On 19 May 2012, at 11:26, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

...

>> I would say so. Good vs. bad, better vs. worse, good guys fighting
>> evil, these are associations arising in my mind when I hear "good
>> explanation."
>
> If an idea is a bad explanation is it objectively flawed?

Here first it would be good to find a place for an idea in the objective
world. Recently I have listened to lectures of Prof Hoenen Controversy
in philosophy (in German) and one of them is the fight between realism
vs. nominalism. Realism in this context is different from the modern
meaning of the word.

Realism and nominalism in philosophy are related to universals. A simple
example:

A is a person;
B is a person.

Does A is equal to B? The answer is no, A and B are after all different
persons. Yet the question would be if something universal and related to
a term �person� exists in A and B objectively (say as an objective
attribute).

Realism says that universals do exist independent from the mind,
nominalism that they are just notation and do not exist as such
independently from the mind.

So, if we consider an idea according to nominalism, it is hard to
imagine that it could be objectively flawed. It is after all just some
notation.

If we take a realism viewpoint, then the idea exists independently from
the mind objectively but then it is unclear what "objectively flawed" in
this respect would mean.

Finally, I do not understand how it could be possible to distinguish a
good explanation from a bad one. First one should define what is good
and what is bad.

>>> If not, what criterion do you propose for deciding which ideas
>>> we should adopt and which ideas we should discard?
>>
>> I am afraid that each individual with free will should find the
>> answer on his/her own.
>
> Do you think that some standards are objectively better than others?

No, I do not think so. I believe that pluralism is a great achievement
of the modern society. What is important though are laws in the society
that regulate relationships between individuals that could not reach an
agreement between each other by themselves.

>> As for scientific method, I am personally comfortable with
>> Feyerabend's Anything goes.
>
> What substantive difference is there between Popper and Feyerabend
> that makes you think Feyerabend is better?

I believe that Feyerabend has demonstrated that the demarcation line,
described by Popper, contradicts to historical facts. That is, what is
referred by Popper to as a scientific method has not been employed in
practice.

Evgenii

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 19, 2012, 2:24:23 PM5/19/12
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On 19.05.2012 14:44 Rami Rustom said the following:
> On Sat, May 19, 2012 at 5:18 AM, Evgenii Rudnyi<use...@rudnyi.ru>
> wrote:

...

>> I am not sure if I understand what does it mean to "explain *why*
>> the guy is better". Could you please give an example of a good
>> explanation in this respect?
>
> Alan gave a good one earlier. I've included it below and I've
> underscored the specific part that is a possible explanation for why
> he is better.
>
>> You say that he analysed the sporting event, cycling say, and came
>> up with a good explanation for what went wrong. You then say his
>> opponent was "just better", which is a bad explanation because
>> nobody is "just better" than anybody else at anything, rather one
>> person is better than another in some specific respect that makes
>> the difference between winning and losing. _The difference might be
>> that the winning cyclist is better at keeping his balance and can
>> lean more into a turn and turn corners faster._ This can't be
>> genetic because there are no genes for bicycle riding, even if
>> there are genes for having a more sensitive inner ear. The winner
>> had to develop the knowledge to concentrate on some things at the
>> expense of others. So the gene thing is also a bad explanation.

First, I do not understand why this explanation is good and why my
explanation is bad. I would say that this has not been explained.

Second, if to talk about explanation as such, why one has won a
competition, I am afraid, that we are close to the dialog between
Socrates and Menon

"Can you tell me, Socrates, whether virtue is acquired by teaching or by
practice; or if neither by teaching nor practice, then whether it comes
to man by nature, or in what other way?"

It looks like that since then the progress in solving this problem is
hardly noticeable.

...

>> I agree but my point was not that "free will is illusion" is true.
>> I have just shown that such a viewpoint enjoys a widespread use in
>> modern sciences.
>
> The fact that you think that you should show that a viewpoint enjoys
> a widespread use in modern sciences *suggests* that you believe that
> *more* widespread adoption that X is true, means that X is true. Of
> course I could be wrong.

Actually I do not share opinion that free will does not exist. I am in
the age of the midlife crisis and I find a problem of meaning of life as
meaningful.

However, being a former scientist I do not see yet how it could work. So
far I am just collecting different opinions.

...

> For example lets say a daughter makes a mess in the living room. And
> her dad asked her to clean up. And she doesn't because she doesn't
> understand *why* she should clean up. And lets say the dad has a
> habit [that he learned from his parents] of explaining, "Jane, we
> have visitors coming soon and it'll be very embarrassing for us if
> they see this mess, so could you please clean up so that we don't
> get embarrassed?" This passes on a bad meme that explains that
> people should care what other people think. Now lets say that

This raises again a question what is bad and what is good. You use these
words but you do not explain how you take decisions on what is good and
what is bad. In this particular case, I would disagree. I personally
consider this as a good explanation.

I would say that for a society to exist, people should care of what
other people think. One does not have to agree with other people but it
would be good to respect other people. For example, I like an order in a
room and if I am invited, I would expect that there will be no mess in
the place where I am invited to.

...

> By the way, the child could prevent a meme from replicating to
> himself too. He may disagree with the parent's bad explanation. This
> happens a lot. But it only happens if the child successfully
> criticized the parents explanation [in his mind] to the point of
> considering it a bad one.

To understand whether a particular explanation good or bad, a child
should first get to the point when he/she could find his/her own place
in the society.

There is a nice movie Shy People by Andrei Konchalovsky where two
methods of raising children are nicely contrasted with each other. One
approach is very authoritarian, another is very liberal. You may like it.

Evgenii

P.S. This is my older daughter

http://masharu.nl/

Just to show you that I am acquainted not only with a theory but with
the practice as well.

Alan Forrester

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May 19, 2012, 3:00:16 PM5/19/12
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On 19 May 2012, at 18:41, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

> On 19.05.2012 13:13 Alan Forrester said the following:
>>
>> On 19 May 2012, at 11:26, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
>
> ...
>
>>> I would say so. Good vs. bad, better vs. worse, good guys fighting
>>> evil, these are associations arising in my mind when I hear "good
>>> explanation."
>>
>> If an idea is a bad explanation is it objectively flawed?
>
> Here first it would be good to find a place for an idea in the objective world. Recently I have listened to lectures of Prof Hoenen Controversy in philosophy (in German) and one of them is the fight between realism vs. nominalism. Realism in this context is different from the modern meaning of the word.
>
> Realism and nominalism in philosophy are related to universals. A simple example:
>
> A is a person;
> B is a person.
>
> Does A is equal to B? The answer is no, A and B are after all different persons. Yet the question would be if something universal and related to a term “person” exists in A and B objectively (say as an objective attribute).
>
> Realism says that universals do exist independent from the mind, nominalism that they are just notation and do not exist as such independently from the mind.
>
> So, if we consider an idea according to nominalism, it is hard to imagine that it could be objectively flawed. It is after all just some notation.

If universals don't exist independent of the mind, then we can't be communicating because there would be no way to agree on a code. It would even be possible to identify two letter "e"s in the same font. Nor could we survive because the concept of "water" is a universal, so if there are no universals then we couldn't identify water and we'd all die of thirst.

> If we take a realism viewpoint, then the idea exists independently from the mind objectively but then it is unclear what "objectively flawed" in this respect would mean.

That's explained in BoI Chapter 1. Knowledge is information that causes itself to remain in existence when it is instantiated in a particular environment. Knowledge that does not have reach outside some particular set of environments is flawed and can be improved so that it can remain instantiated in a wider set of environments.

> Finally, I do not understand how it could be possible to distinguish a good explanation from a bad one. First one should define what is good and what is bad.

That's explained in BoI Chapter 1. A good explanation is hard to vary while still explaining what it is supposed to explain, a bad explanation is easy to vary.

>>>> If not, what criterion do you propose for deciding which ideas
>>>> we should adopt and which ideas we should discard?
>>>
>>> I am afraid that each individual with free will should find the
>>> answer on his/her own.
>>
>> Do you think that some standards are objectively better than others?
>
> No, I do not think so. I believe that pluralism is a great achievement of the modern society.

So you're saying that no standard is better than any other, but you also say that pluralism is a good standard. Your position is inconsistent.

> What is important though are laws in the society that regulate relationships between individuals that could not reach an agreement between each other by themselves.

This is another standard. EITHER no standards are objectively better than any others, OR the standards you have proposed are better than others we could adopt.

>>> As for scientific method, I am personally comfortable with
>>> Feyerabend's Anything goes.
>>
>> What substantive difference is there between Popper and Feyerabend
>> that makes you think Feyerabend is better?
>
> I believe that Feyerabend has demonstrated that the demarcation line, described by Popper, contradicts to historical facts. That is, what is referred by Popper to as a scientific method has not been employed in practice.


That's not an explanation, it's a blank statement. Can you explain Feyerabend's argument or cite a single source, preferably something short, that you think represents Feyerabend's best criticism of Popper?

Alan

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 19, 2012, 5:27:18 PM5/19/12
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On 19.05.2012 21:00 Alan Forrester said the following:
> On 19 May 2012, at 18:41, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
>

...

>> So, if we consider an idea according to nominalism, it is hard to
>> imagine that it could be objectively flawed. It is after all just
>> some notation.
>
> If universals don't exist independent of the mind, then we can't be
> communicating because there would be no way to agree on a code. It
> would even be possible to identify two letter "e"s in the same font.
> Nor could we survive because the concept of "water" is a universal,
> so if there are no universals then we couldn't identify water and
> we'd all die of thirst.

Do you mean that all nominalists were just stupid people?

>> If we take a realism viewpoint, then the idea exists independently
>> from the mind objectively but then it is unclear what "objectively
>> flawed" in this respect would mean.
>
> That's explained in BoI Chapter 1. Knowledge is information that
> causes itself to remain in existence when it is instantiated in a
> particular environment. Knowledge that does not have reach outside
> some particular set of environments is flawed and can be improved so
> that it can remain instantiated in a wider set of environments.

I do not remember that knowledge was even formally defined there. Also I
do not understand how knowledge exists in nature independently of human
mind. In physics that I aware of there are atoms, electrons, nuclei,
electromagnetic fields (superstrings if you like this theory) but not
knowledge as such.

>> Finally, I do not understand how it could be possible to
>> distinguish a good explanation from a bad one. First one should
>> define what is good and what is bad.
>
> That's explained in BoI Chapter 1. A good explanation is hard to vary
> while still explaining what it is supposed to explain, a bad
> explanation is easy to vary.

Could you please next time when you employ a term "good explanation"
apply this rule and prove unambiguously that your good explanation good
indeed?

...

>> No, I do not think so. I believe that pluralism is a great
>> achievement of the modern society.
>
> So you're saying that no standard is better than any other, but you
> also say that pluralism is a good standard. Your position is
> inconsistent.

My position is for sure eclectic. Yet, this is in the nature of human
language as it is impossible to convert it to mathematical logic.

>> What is important though are laws in the society that regulate
>> relationships between individuals that could not reach an agreement
>> between each other by themselves.
>
> This is another standard. EITHER no standards are objectively better
> than any others, OR the standards you have proposed are better than
> others we could adopt.

I have not said that my standards are better, please do not ascribe to
me what I have not said.

...

>> I believe that Feyerabend has demonstrated that the demarcation
>> line, described by Popper, contradicts to historical facts. That
>> is, what is referred by Popper to as a scientific method has not
>> been employed in practice.
>
>
> That's not an explanation, it's a blank statement. Can you explain
> Feyerabend's argument or cite a single source, preferably something
> short, that you think represents Feyerabend's best criticism of
> Popper?

The main book of Feyerabend is Against Method. From Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Feyerabend

"To support his position that methodological rules generally do not
contribute to scientific success, Feyerabend provides counterexamples to
the claim that (good) science operates according to a certain fixed
method. He took some examples of episodes in science that are generally
regarded as indisputable instances of progress (e.g. the Copernican
revolution), and showed that all common prescriptive rules of science
are violated in such circumstances. Moreover, he claimed that applying
such rules in these historical situations would actually have prevented
scientific revolution."

On rational behavior a quote from Feyerabend that I like:

�The church at the time of Galileo was much more faithful to reason than
Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social
consequences of Galileo�s doctrine. Its verdict against Galileo was
rational and just, and revisionism can be legitimized solely for motives
of political opportunism.�

He likes provocative statements but he actually shows nicely according
to historical facts that this was the case.

Evgenii


Alan Forrester

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May 19, 2012, 6:36:35 PM5/19/12
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On 19 May 2012, at 22:27, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

> On 19.05.2012 21:00 Alan Forrester said the following:
>> On 19 May 2012, at 18:41, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
>>
>
> ...
>
>>> So, if we consider an idea according to nominalism, it is hard to
>>> imagine that it could be objectively flawed. It is after all just
>>> some notation.
>>
>> If universals don't exist independent of the mind, then we can't be
>> communicating because there would be no way to agree on a code. It
>> would even be possible to identify two letter "e"s in the same font.
>> Nor could we survive because the concept of "water" is a universal,
>> so if there are no universals then we couldn't identify water and
>> we'd all die of thirst.
>
> Do you mean that all nominalists were just stupid people?

That's not an argument. An argument against a particular idea has to show that it doesn't solve the problem it is intended to solve. So an argument against my position would have to take the form of pointing out why it isn't a correct criticism of the position you described as nominalist.

>>> If we take a realism viewpoint, then the idea exists independently
>>> from the mind objectively but then it is unclear what "objectively
>>> flawed" in this respect would mean.
>>
>> That's explained in BoI Chapter 1. Knowledge is information that
>> causes itself to remain in existence when it is instantiated in a
>> particular environment. Knowledge that does not have reach outside
>> some particular set of environments is flawed and can be improved so
>> that it can remain instantiated in a wider set of environments.
>
> I do not remember that knowledge was even formally defined there.

The explanation that knowledge has this property is on pp. 94-95, not in Chapter 1.

Definitions are not useful qua explanation. The reason is that definitions always use undefined words, so they can only ever be used as abbreviations to make it easier to have discussions without constantly repeating multiword phrases.

> Also I do not understand how knowledge exists in nature independently of human mind.

Genes contain information that causes itself to remain in existence when it is instantiated in a particular environment while most of its variants don't. Machines and books also have this property. If somebody sees a machine that does something he thinks is useful enough then he will want to be able to buy or make it, both of which actions will lead to the knowledge in that machine remaining in existence. Likewise for books.

> In physics that I aware of there are atoms, electrons, nuclei, electromagnetic fields (superstrings if you like this theory) but not knowledge as such.

Emergence is explained in Chapter 5 of BoI. Do you have a criticism of that chapter?

>>> Finally, I do not understand how it could be possible to
>>> distinguish a good explanation from a bad one. First one should
>>> define what is good and what is bad.
>>
>> That's explained in BoI Chapter 1. A good explanation is hard to vary
>> while still explaining what it is supposed to explain, a bad
>> explanation is easy to vary.
>
> Could you please next time when you employ a term "good explanation" apply this rule and prove unambiguously that your good explanation good indeed?

I can explain why I think an idea is hard to vary, but nothing can be proved or justified as explained in Chapter 1 of BoI. Do you have a criticism of that position?

>>> No, I do not think so. I believe that pluralism is a great
>>> achievement of the modern society.
>>
>> So you're saying that no standard is better than any other, but you
>> also say that pluralism is a good standard. Your position is
>> inconsistent.
>
> My position is for sure eclectic. Yet, this is in the nature of human language as it is impossible to convert it to mathematical logic.

Why do demands for unambiguous definitions and proofs apply to the positions in BoI, but not to your positions?

>>> What is important though are laws in the society that regulate
>>> relationships between individuals that could not reach an agreement
>>> between each other by themselves.
>>
>> This is another standard. EITHER no standards are objectively better
>> than any others, OR the standards you have proposed are better than
>> others we could adopt.
>
> I have not said that my standards are better, please do not ascribe to me what I have not said.

You said that laws are important. So how can having laws be important if laws are no better than lawlessness?

>>> I believe that Feyerabend has demonstrated that the demarcation
>>> line, described by Popper, contradicts to historical facts. That
>>> is, what is referred by Popper to as a scientific method has not
>>> been employed in practice.
>>
>>
>> That's not an explanation, it's a blank statement. Can you explain
>> Feyerabend's argument or cite a single source, preferably something
>> short, that you think represents Feyerabend's best criticism of
>> Popper?
>
> The main book of Feyerabend is Against Method.

I could order that book, but it would take time to arrive. Do you think that Feyerabend's essay on Popper in "Farewell to Reason" is a good criticism of Popper?

> From Wikipedia
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Feyerabend
>
> "To support his position that methodological rules generally do not contribute to scientific success, Feyerabend provides counterexamples to the claim that (good) science operates according to a certain fixed method. He took some examples of episodes in science that are generally regarded as indisputable instances of progress (e.g. the Copernican revolution), and showed that all common prescriptive rules of science are violated in such circumstances. Moreover, he claimed that applying such rules in these historical situations would actually have prevented scientific revolution."
>
> On rational behavior a quote from Feyerabend that I like:
>
> “The church at the time of Galileo was much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s doctrine. Its verdict against Galileo was rational and just, and revisionism can be legitimized solely for motives of political opportunism.”
>
> He likes provocative statements but he actually shows nicely according to historical facts that this was the case.

Those quotes aren't arguments, they're just statements.

Alan

Evgenii Rudnyi

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May 20, 2012, 6:18:11 AM5/20/12
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On 20.05.2012 00:36 Alan Forrester said the following:
>
> On 19 May 2012, at 22:27, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

Alan, I have reordered your comments to express my opinion better. If
you see, that I have missed something important in your email, please
let me know.

>> Could you please next time when you employ a term "good
>> explanation" apply this rule and prove unambiguously that your good
>> explanation good indeed?
>
> I can explain why I think an idea is hard to vary, but nothing can be
> proved or justified as explained in Chapter 1 of BoI. Do you have a
> criticism of that position?

Then it seems to me that at that end, we are in a situation when I say
that I like this and you say that you like that. This is quite a common
situation and provided we both tolerate the differences in opinion, I
have nothing against.

>> My position is for sure eclectic. Yet, this is in the nature of
>> human language as it is impossible to convert it to mathematical
>> logic.
>
> Why do demands for unambiguous definitions and proofs apply to the
> positions in BoI, but not to your positions?

I would not say that I demand. I just express my concern of "good vs.
bad" in Beginning of Infinity. I personally do not say that my
explanation is good, I just express what I feel. Others can agree or
disagree. In the latter case, I do not state that their explanation is bad.

I believe that good and bad is important in moral. When we discuss a
scientific explanation, "good vs. bad" disturbs me.

If to speak about the book Beginning of Infinity in general, it disturbs
me a lot for example that the statement "Problem is soluble" is so often
repeated. It reminds me a marketing campaign. By the way, ANSYS has
adopted recently a nice slogan that a product is a promise

"Every product is a promise: to be functional and reliable; to perform
better than other designs on the market. ANSYS can help you meet the
promises you make."

Probably they have read Beginning of Infinity. To speak seriously, I
would prefer that scientific authors describe their findings in a
neutral way.

Now, to answer your question directly. If Beginning of Infinity cannot
answer questions unambiguously, then I do not understand why it was
necessary to employ so much pathos in the book.

>> In physics that I aware of there are atoms, electrons, nuclei,
>> electromagnetic fields (superstrings if you like this theory) but
>> not knowledge as such.
>
> Emergence is explained in Chapter 5 of BoI. Do you have a criticism
> of that chapter?

I do not have criticism as such as I have listened to the chapter just once.

I am aware of emergence (or supervenience as philosophers like it) but
frankly speaking I do not understand how it is working. On emergence I
have worked out A Different Universe by R. B. Laughlin but I still far
from understanding.

>> Also I do not understand how knowledge exists in nature
>> independently of human mind.
>
> Genes contain information that causes itself to remain in existence
> when it is instantiated in a particular environment while most of its
> variants don't. Machines and books also have this property. If
> somebody sees a machine that does something he thinks is useful
> enough then he will want to be able to buy or make it, both of which
> actions will lead to the knowledge in that machine remaining in
> existence. Likewise for books.

Let us consider DNA. When we say that they contain information, then
their must be some formal way to evaluate how much information is there.
In this respect, it would be good to take all organic molecules and then
apply this method. Then, if I understand your point correctly, this
method should produce zero for all organic molecules but DNA.

I am personally not aware of such a method. Recently I have discussion
with biologist on nature of information in biology. Let me quote Prof
Neumann in this respect that disagree with the role of DNA as written in
your statement.

http://groups.google.com/group/embryophysics/msg/8df88c387dd48c27

"I understand that you can write a program that generates tree
morphologies. But you designed the program. An organism's DNA does not
contain such a program. The program, if you want to call it that,
resides in the entire material composition of the organism's zygote, and
only part of that is inscribed in DNA sequence.

The forms that we see unfolding in a present-day organism are not the
execution of information in the DNA, but outcomes of a complex set of
physical processes, only some of which are predictable based on the
physics acting on the contemporary materials (including the DNA). Some
of the forms arose much earlier in evolutionary history based on the
cellular materials present at that time and the physical effects
relevant to those materials.

Those original forms (if they were consistent with survival) acted as
structural templates for subsequent canalizing evolution, so that the
present-day unfolding process can neither be attributed to present-day
DNA, or present-day DNA plus present-day physics. The explanation of the
forms and the means of their generation must also take the historical
dimension into account. The DNA sequence reflect this history, but only
partially, and not in the form of a program."

Currently I follow biosemiotics. You may want to look at

Barbieri, M. (2007). Is the cell a semiotic system? In: Introduction to
Biosemiotics: The New Biological Synthesis. Eds.: M. Barbieri, Springer:
179-208.

It is quite a different explanation there. Where it is bad or good, it
is up to you.

As for books, I can offer you a quote from Max Velmans, Understanding
Consciousness

p. 215. "As Popper (1972) notes, knowledge that is codified into books
and other artefacts has an existence that is, in one sense,
observer-free. That is, the books exist in our libraries after their
writers are long dead and their readers absent, and they form a
repository of knowledge that can influence future social and
technological development in ways which extend well beyond that
envisaged by their original authors. However, the knowledge itself is
not observer-free. Rather, it is valuable precisely because it encodes
individual or collective experience. Nor, strictly speaking, is the
print in books 'knowledge'. As Searle (1997) points out, words and other
symbolic forms are intrinsically just ink marks on a page (see Chapter
5). They only become symbols, let alone convey meaning, to creatures
that know how to interpret and understand them. But autonomous existence
of books (and other media) provides no basis for 'objective knowledge'
of the kind that Popper describes, that is, knowledge 'that is totally
independent of anybody's claim to know', 'knowledge without a knower',
and 'knowledge without a knowing subject (see quote above). On the
contrary, without knowing subjects, there is no knowledge of any kind
(whether objective or not)."

Again, it is up to you to decide which explanation is good and bad.

>>> If universals don't exist independent of the mind, then we can't
>>> be communicating because there would be no way to agree on a
>>> code. It would even be possible to identify two letter "e"s in
>>> the same font. Nor could we survive because the concept of
>>> "water" is a universal, so if there are no universals then we
>>> couldn't identify water and we'd all die of thirst.
>>
>> Do you mean that all nominalists were just stupid people?
>
> That's not an argument. An argument against a particular idea has to
> show that it doesn't solve the problem it is intended to solve. So an
> argument against my position would have to take the form of pointing
> out why it isn't a correct criticism of the position you described as
> nominalist.

Well, when I occasionally think that I have found a good solution for a
problem with a long history, I ask myself such a question. For me it helps.

As for your proof, you start with an assumption that universals cannot
be dependent on mind. Then you prove that they cannot be dependent on
mind. Or if you prefer a term explanation, you start with a good
explanation that universals cannot be dependent on mind and then claim
the opposite as a bad explanation. You can always do it this way.

However, the modern science is based on nominalism and it has been
pretty successful. Actually I guess all technological advances that has
been mentioned in Beginning of Infinity has been achieved by science
based on nominalism.

This is another logic in Beginning of Infinity that I find strange. In
Dark Ages there was a bad philosophy. Then came a philosophy that helped
to develop a modern science but this philosophy in some respect is even
worse. In my view, something here is wrong.

>> The main book of Feyerabend is Against Method.
>
> I could order that book, but it would take time to arrive. Do you
> think that Feyerabend's essay on Popper in "Farewell to Reason" is a
> good criticism of Popper?
>

I have not read Farewell to Reason. There is a small paper by Feyerabend
in Internet and I believe that it is a good summary of his views

Paul Feyerabend, 1975
How To Defend Society Against Science
http://www.galilean-library.org/manuscript.php?postid=43842

This will quickly help you to understand whether you like or hate him.

Evgenii

Alan Forrester

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May 28, 2012, 2:31:52 PM5/28/12
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On 20 May 2012, at 11:18, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

> On 20.05.2012 00:36 Alan Forrester said the following:
>>
>> On 19 May 2012, at 22:27, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
>
> Alan, I have reordered your comments to express my opinion better. If you see, that I have missed something important in your email, please let me know.
>
> >> Could you please next time when you employ a term "good
> >> explanation" apply this rule and prove unambiguously that your good
> >> explanation good indeed?
> >
> > I can explain why I think an idea is hard to vary, but nothing can be
> > proved or justified as explained in Chapter 1 of BoI. Do you have a
> > criticism of that position?
>
> Then it seems to me that at that end, we are in a situation when I say that I like this and you say that you like that. This is quite a common situation and provided we both tolerate the differences in opinion, I have nothing against.

We're not in a world in which every idea is just as good as every other idea because some ideas are actually better as a description of objective reality and we have ways of criticising ideas, such as experiments. None of this requires proof: we try to come up with an explanation and when that explanation fails to explain some things we discard it in favour of a better explanation. The new explanation will sometimes be a slight variant of the old one, and sometimes will be very different.

> >> My position is for sure eclectic. Yet, this is in the nature of
> >> human language as it is impossible to convert it to mathematical
> >> logic.
> >
> > Why do demands for unambiguous definitions and proofs apply to the
> > positions in BoI, but not to your positions?
>
> I would not say that I demand. I just express my concern of "good vs. bad" in Beginning of Infinity. I personally do not say that my explanation is good, I just express what I feel. Others can agree or disagree. In the latter case, I do not state that their explanation is bad.
>
> I believe that good and bad is important in moral. When we discuss a scientific explanation, "good vs. bad" disturbs me.

Do you think that some explanations are more accurate as descriptions of objective reality than others?

> If to speak about the book Beginning of Infinity in general, it disturbs me a lot for example that the statement "Problem is soluble" is so often repeated. It reminds me a marketing campaign.

The book is arguing that problems are soluble: it's difficult to do that without mentioning that problems are soluble.

> By the way, ANSYS has adopted recently a nice slogan that a product is a promise
>
> "Every product is a promise: to be functional and reliable; to perform better than other designs on the market. ANSYS can help you meet the promises you make."
>
> Probably they have read Beginning of Infinity. To speak seriously, I would prefer that scientific authors describe their findings in a neutral way.

Good luck finding a paper where people do that. To publish a paper you have to do something new and explain why it's new and what gives it an advantage over competing ideas in some respect. That's saying that one idea is better than another. Neutral papers don't get published, and rightly so.

> Now, to answer your question directly. If Beginning of Infinity cannot answer questions unambiguously, then I do not understand why it was necessary to employ so much pathos in the book.

Pathos is "the quality or power in an actual life experience or in literature, music, speech, or other forms of expression, of evoking a feeling of pity or compassion." Where is that done in the book?

> >> In physics that I aware of there are atoms, electrons, nuclei,
> >> electromagnetic fields (superstrings if you like this theory) but
> >> not knowledge as such.
> >
> > Emergence is explained in Chapter 5 of BoI. Do you have a criticism
> > of that chapter?
>
> I do not have criticism as such as I have listened to the chapter just once.
>
> I am aware of emergence (or supervenience as philosophers like it) but frankly speaking I do not understand how it is working. On emergence I have worked out A Different Universe by R. B. Laughlin but I still far from understanding.

Let's put it this way. If you build a house out of bricks it's not shaped like a brick, so a collection of things put together in the right way can have properties that the components don't have.

> >> Also I do not understand how knowledge exists in nature
> >> independently of human mind.
> >
> > Genes contain information that causes itself to remain in existence
> > when it is instantiated in a particular environment while most of its
> > variants don't. Machines and books also have this property. If
> > somebody sees a machine that does something he thinks is useful
> > enough then he will want to be able to buy or make it, both of which
> > actions will lead to the knowledge in that machine remaining in
> > existence. Likewise for books.
>
> Let us consider DNA. When we say that they contain information, then their must be some formal way to evaluate how much information is there. In this respect, it would be good to take all organic molecules and then apply this method. Then, if I understand your point correctly, this method should produce zero for all organic molecules but DNA.

No, it shouldn't. Many organic molecules are like a machine and machines instantiate knowledge. A machine typically doesn't contain all of the knowledge required to construct a copy of the machine except in a form that is more difficult to reconstruct than if you were looking at the plans. The plans are designed to be read, they instantiate knowledge of a standard and useful way to describe parts and how they go together. The machine instantiates some kinds of knowledge, but not others.

> I am personally not aware of such a method. Recently I have discussion with biologist on nature of information in biology. Let me quote Prof Neumann in this respect that disagree with the role of DNA as written in your statement.
>
> http://groups.google.com/group/embryophysics/msg/8df88c387dd48c27
>
> "I understand that you can write a program that generates tree morphologies. But you designed the program. An organism's DNA does not contain such a program. The program, if you want to call it that, resides in the entire material composition of the organism's zygote, and only part of that is inscribed in DNA sequence.
>
> The forms that we see unfolding in a present-day organism are not the execution of information in the DNA, but outcomes of a complex set of physical processes, only some of which are predictable based on the physics acting on the contemporary materials (including the DNA). Some of the forms arose much earlier in evolutionary history based on the cellular materials present at that time and the physical effects relevant to those materials.
>
> Those original forms (if they were consistent with survival) acted as structural templates for subsequent canalizing evolution, so that the present-day unfolding process can neither be attributed to present-day DNA, or present-day DNA plus present-day physics. The explanation of the forms and the means of their generation must also take the historical dimension into account. The DNA sequence reflect this history, but only partially, and not in the form of a program."

I said gene, not DNA, for a discussion of the difference see this paper and references cited therein:

http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/jksadegh/A%20Good%20Atheist%20Secularist%20Skeptical%20Book%20Collection/Extended%20Phenotype%20but%20not%20too%20extended%20-%20Dawkins.pdf

> Currently I follow biosemiotics. You may want to look at
>
> Barbieri, M. (2007). Is the cell a semiotic system? In: Introduction to Biosemiotics: The New Biological Synthesis. Eds.: M. Barbieri, Springer: 179-208.
>
> It is quite a different explanation there. Where it is bad or good, it is up to you.
>
> As for books, I can offer you a quote from Max Velmans, Understanding Consciousness
>
> p. 215. "As Popper (1972) notes, knowledge that is codified into books and other artefacts has an existence that is, in one sense, observer-free. That is, the books exist in our libraries after their writers are long dead and their readers absent, and they form a repository of knowledge that can influence future social and technological development in ways which extend well beyond that envisaged by their original authors. However, the knowledge itself is not observer-free. Rather, it is valuable precisely because it encodes individual or collective experience.

The knowledge was generated by observers, but if the book is any good we don't need the person who wrote it to explain it.

> Nor, strictly speaking, is the print in books 'knowledge'. As Searle (1997) points out, words and other symbolic forms are intrinsically just ink marks on a page (see Chapter 5). They only become symbols, let alone convey meaning, to creatures that know how to interpret and understand them.

It is easier to read a book written in English if you know English. But it is possible to figure out a lot about stuff written in languages that nobody has spoken for a very long time, e.g. - translations of stone tablets written in various ancient languages.

> But autonomous existence of books (and other media) provides no basis for 'objective knowledge' of the kind that Popper describes, that is, knowledge 'that is totally independent of anybody's claim to know', 'knowledge without a knower', and 'knowledge without a knowing subject (see quote above). On the contrary, without knowing subjects, there is no knowledge of any kind (whether objective or not)."

There were no knowing subjects for most of the history of life on Earth, but there was lots of knowledge - that is lots of information that, once instantiated in a physical object, caused itself to remain instantiated. And there are genes in bacteria today that still do that.

>>>> If universals don't exist independent of the mind, then we can't
>>>> be communicating because there would be no way to agree on a
>>>> code. It would even be possible to identify two letter "e"s in
>>>> the same font. Nor could we survive because the concept of
>>>> "water" is a universal, so if there are no universals then we
>>>> couldn't identify water and we'd all die of thirst.
>>>
>>> Do you mean that all nominalists were just stupid people?
>>
>> That's not an argument. An argument against a particular idea has to
>> show that it doesn't solve the problem it is intended to solve. So an
>> argument against my position would have to take the form of pointing
>> out why it isn't a correct criticism of the position you described as
>> nominalist.
>
> Well, when I occasionally think that I have found a good solution for a problem with a long history, I ask myself such a question. For me it helps.
>
> As for your proof, you start with an assumption that universals cannot be dependent on mind. Then you prove that they cannot be dependent on mind.

Do you have a criticism of the idea that there are universal laws of physics that determine the properties of water? If so, how are you going to replace geology, chemistry, biology and so on all of which are currently explained by invoking universal laws of physics that operated before human beings started trying to explain them?

> Or if you prefer a term explanation, you start with a good explanation that universals cannot be dependent on mind and then claim the opposite as a bad explanation. You can always do it this way.


Wrong. As you noted you have to start with a good explanation, and the alternative has to be worse. Newtonian mechanics was a good explanation in a way that most previous theories were not, e.g. - Newton used it to explain the motion of planets, as well as the motion of objects on Earth and this theory remained unrefuted for a long time because it actually explained a lot of stuff. Einstein's general theory of relativity explained all of the stuff that Newton's theory explained and more.

> However, the modern science is based on nominalism and it has been pretty successful. Actually I guess all technological advances that has been mentioned in Beginning of Infinity has been achieved by science based on nominalism.

Science isn't based on nominalism, or on anything else.

> This is another logic in Beginning of Infinity that I find strange. In Dark Ages there was a bad philosophy. Then came a philosophy that helped to develop a modern science but this philosophy in some respect is even worse. In my view, something here is wrong.

It's not worse, it's an improvement, but is still flawed.

Alan

Elliot Temple

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May 29, 2012, 4:35:30 AM5/29/12
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On May 18, 2012, at 12:10 PM, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

> Please look at the scientific sources that I have given in my reply to Rami. Then you will see that this is exactly what science says, that is, free will is illusion.

Here, we try not to settle philosophical arguments by checking out what opinion the majority of scientists have. The goal, instead, is to consider each position -- as well as any new ones we can think of -- on its merits not its popularity or source.


-- Elliot Temple
http://fallibleideas.com/



Elliot Temple

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May 29, 2012, 4:37:23 AM5/29/12
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On May 18, 2012, at 12:10 PM, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:

> Is this your opinion, or this has been s