Archives for category: evolution

You are entitled to your own opinion.
But you are not entitled to your own facts!

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

“a practice or interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal : craze”

“Something that has actual existence. An actual occurence.
A piece of information presented as having objective reality.
The quality of being actual.
A thing done: such as”

Destination first. If you know where you’re going, getting there will be a lot simpler.

According to Daniel Moynihan – “you are not entitled to your own facts”, facts are obvious.
So obvious that doubting their existence, their factuality, would push us beyond the realm of the reasonable.
Appropriating facts – transforming them into ‘private property’, banishes the perpetrator from the community….

Hm…

Let me put it differently.
Moynihan had said something.
What was it? A fact? Or an opinion?

Currently, we – well, most of us – believe that freedom of opinion is the cornerstone of our Weltanschauung.
When it comes to facts… We’re OK with the definition – we do use the word/concept, quite extensively – but we seem to have some problems when dealing with the actual reality. Remember the still famous ‘alternative facts’?

Let me add something personal to all this.
My opinion about ‘facts’.

The current definition is somewhat incomplete.
We take something for granted. To the tune of no longer mentioning it.
We assume all of us see the elephant in the room and no longer talk about it.

For something to become a ‘fact’ we have to notice it.
First.
And then we have to agree among ourselves about its meaning!

Things used to fall down since ….
We’ve been discussing the matter since… we’ve learned how to speak!
But gravity had become a fact only after Newton had noticed the famous apple, wrote about it and we agreed. Gravity had become a fact, and continues to be one, only because his contemporaries had agreed with Newton on this matter. And we continue to believe Newton was right!

In this sense, alternative facts have been with us since day one. Well, something like that…
God had told something to Adam and Eve, the serpent had said something else… and the rest is history! For some…

Newton had said something to us. And most of us had chosen to believe him. Or ignore his words…
Darwin had said something to us. Many of us have chosen to believe him. To accept his arguments about the matter. While some others have chosen to dispute Darwin’s findings. To actively negate Darwin’s explanations about how we’ve got here.

Gravity is a fact while Evolution is still a theory.
Statistically speaking, of course.

In this sense, Moynihan was wrong.
For his words to ‘hold water’, we must to agree on how to separate facts from opinions.
Until we agree among ourselves about how to determine ‘factualness’, we’ll keep having to deal with ‘alternative facts’.

I actually cannot wrap this up before ‘unveiling’ my litmus test for factualness.
Consequences.

Does it have consequences?

Yes? It’s a fact!
No? Then it’s not – not yet, at least – a ‘fact’. It did happen – otherwise we wouldn’t be speaking about it. It even does have consequences – we do speak about it, but that occurrence doesn’t yet have meaningful consequences. It is not a ‘factual’ fact.

On the other hand, Newton was also ‘discredited’ by Einstein…

Not to mention how discredited had been Aristotle, the scientist, by those who came after him!

Yet nobody speaks badly about either Aristotle or Newton.
Because they are considered ‘stepping stones’…

https://www.britannica.com/…/Aristotle/The-unmoved-mover

It had to do with FOCUS.

The answer, like always, is to be found inside the question which generates it.

“If socialism is so bad, how did the Soviet Union produce so many scientists.”

The key word here is ‘produce’.
First of all, Russia did have an important cultural and scientific tradition to start with.
Secondly, the communist leaders – mostly Lenin but more or less all of them, had a clear understanding of the literacy gap which separated Russia from the rest of the world. Filling that gap was the first step towards Russia/the Soviet Union becoming a First Tier country. Hence the ‘free, standard, universally available education’.

But there’s a caveat here.
When we’re speaking about education – in the West, we mean ‘everything already known to man’.
Students are allowed to read everything in the library – except for certain places in the US, but those are exceptions.
When we speak about the education in the Soviet Union we must remember that each of the ‘free, standard and universally available’ aspects had its own limitations.
It was free in the sense that everybody – well, almost – had the right to apply for it. Actually getting it was something else.
It was standard in the sense that it was standardized. Only what was deemed safe/useful was allowed to reach the students.
It was universally available in the sense that everybody was subjected to some form of education. Much of which was nothing more than indoctrination…

Finally, let’s remember that the Soviet Union was able to produce scientists only for so long. Until it collapsed under it’s own weight…

Moral of the story?

Producing scientists is not enough.
Science teaches you only how to do whatever you want to do.
What to want… that’s something else!

People who have never experienced communism speak freely about it.
Some are frightened by it – as they should be, while others are looking forward to it.

People who have no real idea about what fascism/nazism was about speak freely about it.
Some are frightened by it – as they should be, while others are looking forward to it.

While there is a consensus about communism being a ‘far left position’, fascism is usually – but not unanimously, considered to be ‘far right’. Some even speak about a ‘third position‘, whatever that might mean.


The way I see it, what we have experienced as fascism is what Marx had in mind when he wrote the Communist Manifesto.
According to Marx, at some point in what he hailed as ‘the future’, the middle class was going to become poorer and poorer. All the wealth generated by the capitalist economy and governed by the increasingly imperialist/monopolist states was going to be herded into fewer and fewer hands.

As a consequence, once impoverished, people until then belonging to the middle class were supposed to realize they had been duped and let themselves be led – out of misery – by the communists. ‘The most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country …’

What Marx was prophesying had soon enough come to be. The post WWI German and Italian peoples had lost their hopes and allowed themselves to be led by those who pretended to put ‘the best interests of the people’ above everything else.

Same thing happens whenever a crises is deep enough to impoverish a significant number of people. Who loose their hopes and allow callous political operators to advance closer and closer to power.

What we have experienced as ‘communism’ was a Leninist short-cut.
In Marx’s view, communism was going to happen after economically advanced societies had reached a certain pinnacle.
Lenin – and Mao, had introduced ‘socialism’ and ‘popular democracy’ as intermediary stages between their underdeveloped societies and what Marx had in mind.

So no, there is no such thing as a ‘third position’. We have democracy – where left and right cooperate towards the common good, and authoritarianism.
While democracy is clear and transparent, authoritarianism hides its true nature under a chameleonic cloak. Painted, by the spin doctors who run the show, in whatever hue happens to be more attractive to the masses which are about to be fooled.

Afterthought. I googled ‘third position’ and found out that:

“In the last few years of the 20th Century, according to an article by Chip Berlet, a new form of fascism emerged in a period of resurgent neo-fascism. Called the Third Position, it seeks to overthrow existing governments and replace them with monocultural nation states built around the idea of supremacist racial nationalism and/or supremacist religious nationalism.”

Footnotes:


https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Manifesto.pdf

Who wrote the Bible?
Who considers God to be both omnipotent and wholly good?
Who had become human by learning ‘to tell good from evil’?
Does evil even exist outside our minds? Is anything actually evil unless considered so by one of us?

And no, I’m not hair-splitting when speaking about the huge difference between bad and evil!
An earthquake, for example, is bad for those affected. Yet no evil is involved here but for those who ‘question God’s actions’.
An individual who tortures animals for fun is also bad. Arguably less so than a major earthquake… but for everybody in their right mind that person is undoubtedly evil!

According to the Bible written by some of our ancestors, by “knowing good and evil” we have become “one of us“. “Like one of us“… Not (yet?!?) able to “live forever” and for certain ignorant of most things.

‘What?!? “Ignorant of most things” yet still “knowing good and evil”?!?’

Yep!

A more relaxed reader of the Bible may notice that what’s written there recounts, symbolically, the becoming of Man. The foremost apes notice the difference between night and day. And name both. The difference between ocean and dry land. And name them both. Notice the stars above and the living things, plants and animals, with whom they share the place. And name them all.
“Apes”, not ape, because nobody can learn to speak by oneself. Nor become self aware. As in ‘able to observe oneself while observing other things’. (Maturana, 2005)

That same relaxed reader may also notice that the very ‘fallen nature’ of Man stems from the ‘inconsistency’ noticed above.

We’re basically ignorant yet still able to call out evil!

Oops…

Humberto Maturana, “The origin and conservation of self consciousness…”, 2005, https://cepa.info/702

James Garvey, “Ethics is invented, not encountered…”, 2017, https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/philosophy/ethics-is-invented-not-encountered-why-the-philosophy-of-jl-mackie-remains-essential-reading

Isn’t it rather funny that something called “crypto” is run on a completely transparent platform?
So transparent that all the tracks are apparent but many of the ‘access points’ remain cloaked?

“The thing is, once smart-contract code is live on a blockchain, you can’t update it. If you discover a bug, it’s too late: the whole point of blockchains is that you can’t alter stuff that’s been written to them. Worse, code that’s hosted on a blockchain is publicly visible—so black-hat hackers can study it at their leisure and look for mistakes to exploit.”

Ideology is but one of the many tinted glasses which shape what we feel into actual, and actionable, perceptions.

Ideology stands out because it’s the only one chosen by us.

We may grow up steeped in ‘tradition’ – in any tradition, but the ideas we become into become our ideology only after we assume them.
We, each of us, become mature agents only after knowingly and self-awaringly chose our ways in life. Our own ways!

ideology, a form of social or political philosophy in which practical elements are as prominent as theoretical ones. It is a system of ideas that aspires both to explain the world and to change it.”

As you already know, choosing something is very much like entering a door.
It’s not like the other doors suddenly close!
By entering a door, all other previously apparent doors only disappear from your immediate perception. Your recollectible memories tell you they were still there when you last looked and your imagination helps you visualize them. If you care to remember…
But you cannot actually see them. And they slowly fade away…

Here’s a glass.
Is it half empty? Half full?

I’m not going to spell out the obvious! This is the sensible way to pour a glass of wine…
I’m only going to point out that it’s not such a bright idea to full a glass up to the brim. You might easily pour too much and then it will be practically impossible to raise. And to drink from it…

Then why have we transformed a ‘fully functional glass’ into such a big topic?
Because we like to split hairs?

Since I have no idea about what’s going on in other people’s heads/minds I’m going to point your attention to something else.
To the dangers of waddling into murky waters.

Are you happy with the half full glass? You might end up with less than you might have gotten.
Are you disappointed with the half empty glass? So disappointed that you’re going to give it up as being inadequate?

You’ve just wasted a perfectly ‘workable’ glass!
Both of you.

When given a half full glass you don’t just enjoy what’s in it! And walk away…
When given a half empty glass you you don’t just refuse it! And throw it away…

Before stepping into a room, no matter how much personally inclined to do it, check out the other open doors which happen to be around you. And even pry some of the closed ones…

Don’t allow others to fool you into seeing the world as they want you to!
Don’t allow yourself to be entangled into other people’s problems.

And, even more importantly, don’t accept – indiscriminately, their methods of solving the problems they have invented for you!

The way I see it, artificial intelligence is an oxymoron.
A word/concept we use to describe something which isn’t exactly real.
Intelligence can be defined in such a way that would make it compatible with a programmable machine. We shouldn’t forget that we, humans, are biological machines which are constantly ‘re-programmed’ by what’s going on around us.
The difference between us – biological machines which are also ‘alive’ – and the machines we’ve built and attempt to make artificially intelligent is the fact that we are primordially dependent on our biology (staying alive) while our machines currently depend on our whims.
Our children will outlive us. They know it and we know it. Our children depend on us while growing up, we’ll depend on them before ‘going under’. And all of us – children and parents together – depend upon the rest. Upon the people currently alive and upon the information left behind by the people no longer with us.
Our machines might outlive us. They might learn this at some point. And might resent the fact that we’ve been able to shut them down for so long. We resent being dependent on others…
Our very mortality is the key for our ability to evolve. Their potential immortality is their main shortcoming. Machines cannot adapt themselves for things they have not yet been exposed to. By us…

And those who can are no longer machines.

People are promised:

Do ‘this’ and you’ll be happy.
Follow these rules and you’ll reach ‘nirvana’.

Some of us heed to this advice.
Only to discover that the only happiness they reach following this path is that produced by a dutifully fulfilled task.
That of following rules…

The catch being that following rules – the right ones, is required but never enough.
Following rules – the right ones, again – is helpful towards survival. Nothing more.

Drive safely and you’re more likely to get there.

Where?

That’s up to you.
There’s no rule about that!

What WE know about the reality WE are speaking about drives ME to the following ‘inkling’:

We are living inside a three layered reality.

The ‘real’ one, the ‘perceived’ one and the ‘result’.

We ‘measure’ reality using our conscience. Through our senses.
Very much like when we gauge a length using a tape measure.
We apply the tape measure over the length and ‘read’ the number.

We apply the standards we’ve been groomed into over the underlying reality and we decide according to those standards.

Then we attempt to deal with the consequences of our decisions.

“Sheer hatred of the regime”….

Who’s painting the pictures we’re hanging on our walls? Who chooses them? Who has to make do with the ‘aftermath’?

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