Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Should you squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle or from the end?
Spartan_Warrior
Posts: 1680
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:24 am

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:16 pm

jacob wrote: Spreading the idea that the media is biased (it's really not anyone biased than congress, IOW the media falls within the viewpoints presented by congress, not outside it) and it opens the door for Macedonian teenagers to make a quick buck or politicians to lie at will.
Naturally, this is where you lose me. Actually, I might concur that the "media is not (anymore) biased than congress, IOW the media falls within the viewpoints presented by congress, not outside it". But I would say that in and of itself is evidence of bias, not evidence against it. An investigative, impartial journalist observes and relays facts preferably from observation. When you do nothing but wait for the prescribed opinion to be handed down in a PR statement from Washington--or worse, transmitted in a secret email--you cease to be a journalist and become a propagandist.

I kinda suspected this lament was premised on the idea that mainstream media is a trustworthy arbiter of objective fact, and at another level poking at those who distrust it as being "post-factual", which makes it difficult for me to get on board. If you don't think the mainstream media has promulgated "fake news" for reasons of political bias, I invite you to show me proof that violence took place and/or chairs were thrown by Sanders supporters at the Nevada Democratic Caucus. And that's just the first example to mind. Failing to acknowledge bias in the media is fairly post-factual in and of itself.

ETA: Oh, and bonus points if you can find a single one of the media outlets or specific reporters who reported on violence at the Nevada convention later publish a formal retraction or in any way admit they were wrong or that what they spread was propagandistic "fake news".

But let's play along. Supposing the mainstream media is an unbiased source of objective truth, and that allowing voices to question the media's authority or provide alternative narratives opens the door for Macedonian hackers to undermine our (otherwise sterling) democracy, what should be done about it? Would an appropriate response be censorship of all alternative news and a centralized media broadcasting only state-approved "facts"? Because that seems to be where the "fake news" frenzy is trying to herd us. (Speaking of "firehoses of falsehood", reread the document and see how many of those tactics are being used to convince us that Russians using fake news swung the election for Trump.)

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 9033
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by jacob » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:04 pm

@SW - Nah, you're too deeply focused on nuance/your concerns are very wonkish/parochial-lost in the big pic ... focusing on the bark of a single tree instead of the forest. Not appreciating that the average person doesn't even know what the forest is.

The average/random person wouldn't even have heard of the details you're talking about. What's a caucus? Nevada what? Who is this Sanders person? I remind you than 40% of the public can't even name the friggin' VP ... Who is Sanders again? Where is Nevada on a map? Where is North on a map? There's a 2% chance that any random person knows who the chief justice is! Reconcile this with how many thought that this election was about the composition of the supreme court. I'm talking about people who still think Trump vote the popular vote or who think Obama personally adjusted their social security pay-outs and denied their COLA. That's not just a few outliers. It's a lot of people!

The average (median! really) person currently think themselves well-informed because they click on every news article in their facebook feed. The average person thinks they've done their research because they spent a few minutes googling and clicking on a few links on the page one [of google].

That's where the political bar is.

So if you make any political statement, etc. the average person thinks they know about as much as you do because they spent 5 mins on google.You're some 10-100x better informed ... but the average person can't tell the difference between you and their crazy Uncle and doesn't appreciate it either!

In terms of science, as far as I can tell (see above to confirm), the general belief is apparently that most scientists have never measured anything on their own (wrong) and just rely on hear-say data from others (wrong) and that scientific theory is too complex for anyone to understand (wrong). So about at the same level where the political bar is.

Same difference.

What to do about it? I spent a modicum of effort during this election cycle refuting/fact-checking stupid shit from friends and family. Eventually most of them actually listened. Kinda how I spent a modicum of effort refuting bullshit on (your) original CC thread a few years ago with similar results. It's standard starfish-story. It doesn't matter to most but it matters to the few.

Ultimately, I think it's unpossible to change course and it's part of the natural cycle of civilization. The better things get, the less the average person appreciates the work/knowledge it took to get there.

I mean people could go and read a few books, but I have a hard time imagining most people would be willing to go that far.

steveo73
Posts: 1125
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:52 pm

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by steveo73 » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:45 pm

Campitor wrote:Facts matter but in context, i.e., if both of us are not experts about climate science, how would we know we have all the facts and/or if those facts are being presented logically and correctly? And would we have the maturity to look at the facts-in-opposition objectively to correct our beliefs?
I disagree with this. It's like putting your hands on your head and stating unless I'm an expert I can't offer an opinion. I think lots of so called experts have biases and utilise facts not to get to the truth but for some other objective. You mention climate science and that is a classic example. There are alarmists and skeptics that are experts. Facts have been distorted and even made up.
Campitor wrote:You may know how to use a TV but your lack knowledge about how it works will leave you ignorant in topics such as "what electronics can interfere with my tv signal?" or "how do I fix my tv?", etc. This lack of knowledge will make you susceptible to charlatans who will happily charge you for fixes that don't work or make your TV susceptible to further damage.
Yes but there is a tolerance level. That tolerance level is partly in my opinion based on clear logical thinking.
Campitor wrote:I think facts probably matter to Brute too. But how can either of you be sure you are arguing for the correct solution unless you know you have ALL the facts or if the facts are being presented and interpreted correctly? I think what Brute is stating regarding facts being a "social phenomenon", is that most problems are so complex with so many active inputs, it is extremely difficult for a layperson to be sure he is arguing for the correct solution or interpreting the data correctly.
Again I disagree with this premise.
Campitor wrote:And how would anyone, not being an expert on a complex topic, know which facts to clarify? How do you know there isn't any missing data that could greatly influence the conclusions?
This comes down to clear logical thinking. It means being open-minded but not too open minded.
Campitor wrote:And how would a non-expert know what a poor quality fact looks like if they aren't experts on the complex item being discussed?
Same point.
Campitor wrote:I will agree with Brute but with a slight change to his conclusion: facts are often very useless to solve questions or problems about complex models when people fall into logical fallacies such as confirmation bias, etc.
I actually agree with this but that is because the facts aren't good quality facts. So I view what you are talking about as still about getting the facts clear and then coming to a conclusion.

If you have a complex model with good data and the data matches the complex model with in and out of sample data (and enough data) then you probably can state that you believe that model is correct. If the data doesn't match the model then you should reassess the model.

To me it's still about being clear about the facts and then coming to a conclusion. I think the issue that we have now is twofold:-

1. People aren't truthful about the facts. So they pervert the facts of make up facts to suit them. Using climate change as an example we have the fraudulent 97% of scientists confirmation and for instance the fact that extreme weather events are caused by global warming.
2. People don't care about the facts. I think that this is partly a reaction to point 1. So your belief becomes more important than the facts.

steveo73
Posts: 1125
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:52 pm

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by steveo73 » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:51 pm

jennypenny wrote:IMO a big part of the problem right now isn't ignorance but a sense of mistrust towards government and by extension, others who resemble that kind of authority. Some of that comes from the government and certain authorities being too slow to admit when they've been wrong about facts in the past. You only have to look at the FDA and the influence lobbyists have had on the food pyramid to see how misinformation has been systematically doled out to the public, but there are lots of other examples.
To me this is problem 1. The facts are often not clear cut because of biases.
jennypenny wrote:The other problem is what was stated up-thread -- that setting up the argument as belief v. fact is never going to resolve the issue because it implies that belief is 'incorrect' and one must give up their beliefs in order to agree with the facts.
This is what I disagree with. If you have the facts to prove my belief wrong I want to see it. That allows me to change my belief to be more aligned to reality. I think though lots of people fail to do this including possibly myself.

Spartan_Warrior
Posts: 1680
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:24 am

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:56 pm

@Jacob: My focus may be narrow, but I think the legacy media's coverage of this election is relevant to support my earlier positions. I think it goes without saying that the median person (not a scientist) does not have the educational background or perhaps even access to the data and resources to investigate and reach accurate conclusions about things like climate change or Russian hacking or election fairness. I don't think that's changed. What seems to be a more recent (last two decades with rapid acceleration) change is how much credibility the mainstream/legacy media and political establishment have lost. Examples like the Nevada caucus reporting go to show why that credibility has been lost... and perhaps offer a commentary as to whether that loss of credibility might be justified.*

*I would also question the idea that the level of detail in that example is below the attention of the average person. Sure, the average person may not know the exact process behind the Nevada caucus and such. They probably aren't interested** in such details, either. Instead what they see, over and over again in every single media outlet is headlines all sharing two key words: "Sanders" and "violence". The median person with his rudimentary level of knowledge and interest concludes that Sanders is a poor leader with out of control violent supporters (a meme that was already furiously promoted by the legacy media--see "Bernie Bros", etc). Hell, whoever this Sanders guy is, he sounds no different from Trump! ...And that's how it's done. (Again, I apologize if my focus seems narrow, it's simply that these are the recent examples that I've studied most closely, and I think they remain relevant.)

** "When people are less interested in a topic, they are more likely to accept familiarity brought about by repetition as an indicator that the information [repeated to the point of familiarity] is correct." - Firehose of Falsehood, p. 4

Suffice it to say, IMO, people are very right to question everything, including anything the media says. They're probably right to investigate to the extent of their investigative abilities (e.g. Google search) and form their own opinions to the extent of their reasoning abilities (e.g. confirmation bias). Maybe where it goes wrong is where everyone believes they've got it objectively right as a result of this process. But perhaps this is the human condition at play? I have to constantly remind myself how little I actually know about anything. Or perhaps I'm only giving into post-factualist reasoning myself.

I don't know what to do about it beyond the personal level, though. On the one hand, skepticism is a natural and proper reaction to misinformation, but it can also entrench false beliefs. E.g., my telling people to question the mainstream media likely wouldn't help convince a climate change denier.

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 3814
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Wed Dec 14, 2016 4:36 pm

jacob wrote: It's also getting clear ... see agnotology ... how this comes about. Do a sustained campaign spreading uncertainty about "function" (as per above). For example, this was successfully done with tobacco and climate science and the effort has been well documented. Spread some doubt that experts and hint they not much smarter than you ... maybe use a good logo or some random graphs to increase the noise/signal ratio. Once that's done, it increases the virality of BS. Spreading the idea that the media is biased (it's really not anyone biased than congress, IOW the media falls within the viewpoints presented by congress, not outside it) and it opens the door for Macedonian teenagers to make a quick buck or politicians to lie at will.
Practice makes perfect. Do anything over and over and you are bound to get good at it.
viewtopic.php?t=4654&start=25#p66177


When we practice believing things that run counter to what evidence suggests, we get good at it. My hypothesis is that by practicing this in one realm we get good at applying it in other realms.

Image


Who tends to harbor these beliefs? Who spreads then?
jennypenny wrote:Balance is needed -- not necessarily 50/50 -- to protect society from ignorance while allowing some breathing room for enough 'belief' to keep people feeling happy and connected.
Why is belief necessary to keep people feeling happy and connected?

7Wannabe5
Posts: 2744
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Dec 14, 2016 5:29 pm

Ego said: Why is belief necessary to keep people feeling happy and connected?
I somehow found myself assigned the task of reading a story about the year Santa Claus took a vacation to a group of 7 year old children ( 2/3 Muslim) today. When I finished the children clapped, and then one boy said "Santa Claus is fake, right?" and another chimed in "No, he isn't fake. He is dead." Others quickly voiced their opinion on the controversy, and it seemed that the group was fairly evenly divided between fake, dead or real, and I was called upon to settle the matter from my position of authority sitting up in the rocking chair. So, I said "Santa Claus is real if you are somebody who believes that Santa Claus is real."

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 9033
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by jacob » Wed Dec 14, 2016 5:38 pm

@7wb5 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KAGwNtI26w ... This is the attitude I'm increasingly trying to adopt when it comes to what other people think about reality. It certainly works with Santa Claus. Eventually these kids will go read a book or learn in other ways. Not my problem.

George the original one
Posts: 4239
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by George the original one » Wed Dec 14, 2016 5:40 pm

Ego wrote:Why is belief necessary to keep people feeling happy and connected?
If you don't believe, then you're not a member of the tribe. See above Santa Claus story.

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 3814
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Wed Dec 14, 2016 6:59 pm

George the original one wrote:
Ego wrote:Why is belief necessary to keep people feeling happy and connected?
If you don't believe, then you're not a member of the tribe. See above Santa Claus story.
Each year we attend a large Christmas party where the eighty-odd guests collectively sing Christmas carols. I have an ongoing joke with one of my more faith-filled friends. He shakes his head in bewilderment and asks how it is that I as an atheist am okay singing Oh Holy Night and O' Little Town of Bethlehem. A few years ago, rather than answering his gibe I just began singing Santa Clause is Coming to Town and everyone followed along. He is a little dense. When I pointed out that he sang about how Santa is making a list and checking it twice, he didn't quite catch my meaning.

One thing I can say for sure is that I am a member of the tribe. Over years I've gotten more involved and have lately found myself in the middle of the scrum when the men vs. women Twelve Days of Christmas competition begins.

Sometimes the tribe needs gentle guiding.

User avatar
BRUTE
Posts: 2513
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:20 pm

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by BRUTE » Thu Dec 15, 2016 2:47 am

wow, brute has detected large quantities of win in this thread. this is why he loves this forum!
Papers of Indenture wrote:Good post Brute. It's pretty damning that I saw what you describe play out time and time again in rationalist communities like Less Wrong. Almost enough to drive one to nihilisim ;)
almost. if Papers of Indenture likes Less Wrong, brute has a basilisk to sell him.
Spartan_Warrior wrote:Perhaps such concerns are serving as premises to derive incorrect conclusions that "since the truth is impossible to know for sure, why bother trying"
in effect, 99% of the truth is impossible to know for any particular human, just because of time and effort constraints. a human might become a specialist in climate change, but then won't know many facts about sheep herding. or whatever.

brute's rule of factlessness: number of facts learnable by a human in a lifetime / number of facts in the universe ~= 0
Spartan_Warrior wrote:What seems to be a more recent (last two decades with rapid acceleration) change is how much credibility the mainstream/legacy media and political establishment have lost.
and this might just be due to exposure. pre internet, the only exposure to anything outside of a small radius around a human would've come from TV or the radio. now there's a lot of shit on TV, but nowhere near the amount of shit that's on the internet. now this doesn't inherently mean humans are more wrong than they used to be - they're just less coordinated in their beliefs, because there are more different sources.

while brute's not going to argue that many humans now aren't dumb and uninformed, he's not sure that there's a "golden age" to be sentimental about, like jacob seems to be, where all humans were fact-based and rational. does this golden age happen to coincide with the time jacob was spending amongst physicists? brute is quite sure 98% of humans have always been misinformed.
the leader of ERE wrote:In terms of science, as far as I can tell (see above to confirm), the general belief is apparently that most scientists have never measured anything on their own (wrong) and just rely on hear-say data from others (wrong) and that scientific theory is too complex for anyone to understand (wrong).
it is not that most scientists have never measured anything. it's that no scientist has measured everything. even if each and every scientist, or even each and every human, spent their entire lives measuring facts about reality, each individual would still know roughly nothing of the universe, because the universe is (at least effectively) infinite compared to what a single human can measure in a lifetime.

this is why humans have to rely on each other for almost all facts.
steveo73 wrote:I actually agree with this but that is because the facts aren't good quality facts.
yea, none of those bullshit low-fat facts with pesticides in them. and genes. genes are disgusting.
lentil master jacob wrote:What I find funny ... and what's really happening all over ... is that experts in a given field will readily acknowledge this effect in their own specialist field.
what brute finds funny is how jacob describes the problem so perfectly, yet seems surprised by its consequences.

1)infinite number of facts about reality
2)limited human lifetime and attention span
3)humans know a little about some things or a lot about a few things, but almost nothing about almost everything
4)somehow, this is surprising

what is jacob expecting? that humans learn ALL THINGS before having an opinion?

in an infinite world, humans need to make decisions on things they don't know much about. society is a method of solving that problem. humans go along with the herd because they cannot experience all necessary facts before starving to death.

now if humans were incapable of deception or incompetence, and would therefore always only transmit objectively true facts, these facts would accumulate in and permeate society, until (conceivably) one day, all possible knowledge would be contained in this network.

but in reality, humans are often incompetent and deceptive. so they've learned to be skeptical when other humans tell them things.

now if a human isn't an expert himself, like mentioned, there's no way to identify who the real experts are. thus humans learn to identify experts by ways that are easier than becoming an expert themselves. unsurprisingly (map !== territory), these ways can fail. other humans learn to game them. endless cycle!
jennypenny wrote:The other problem is what was stated up-thread -- that setting up the argument as belief v. fact is never going to resolve the issue because it implies that belief is 'incorrect' and one must give up their beliefs in order to agree with the facts.
this so much!

having thought about this a little today, brute's new theory goes like this.

the idea posted in the OP, and which brute sees a lot in science-minded non-trumper the last 2 years, says that humans could be divided into two groups, those that believe in facts, and those that believe in beliefs or are anti-fact or post-fact. it might look something like this.

:geek: :ugeek: :geek: :ugeek: :geek: :ugeek:

vs.

:twisted: :shock: :? :( :x :roll: :evil: :twisted:

this, to brute, seems like a false dichotomy. the "post-facters" are not really post-fact, but they believe in DIFFERENT "facts" and plug them into different world views.

due to the tribal nature of facts and their distribution through society, it's absurd to claim that the majority of the upper side is actually fact-based. sure, some of the more sciency ones might have measured a few actual facts of their own. but surely not 100% of their beliefs were based on their own measurements, because that would be impossible. instead, most of what they "know" are actually "beliefs" as well, in the sense that they didn't measure them themselves.

on the other side, the humans on the bottom didn't decide to "become post-factual" and start believing random shit either. these two groups of humans merely rely on different tribes/networks to construct their belief-systems. these belief-systems might or might not be based on measured facts somewhere down below. both probably are to some degree, but not fully. if brute imagines any "beliefs" he has on a tree, descending the social graph down to the human that actually measured (or made up) this fact, there is a sort of inverse pyramid, where a few fact-measurers support a vast graph of believers. this is true for both sides.

the clash is therefore not between facter and post-facters, it's between different belief-systems, of which facts play a foundational, but not the only, part.

it looks like this:
:geek:
:geek: 8-) :ugeek:
8-) :lol: :D :P :roll:

vs.

:evil: :twisted: :o :x
:roll: :shock: :|
:ugeek:

both sides have belief-systems in part based on fact, and in part not. the majority of the members of either group did not measure most of their beliefs themselves, but got them through the social effect. thus, both sides have facts and both sides have believers.

dichotomy solved.

now it could be said that, of the foundation of those belief-systems, one is more based on facts and the other more on lies. but that's pretty much impossible to determine for a human outside of his own expert domain. if one of them is more based on facts, most of its members couldn't have known that, and only ended up in there because of tribal connections.

bonus: some things are just super hard, and what's fact is not even obvious to the experts. economics comes to mind. natural sciences were just kind of the low hanging fruit in terms of certainty.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 2744
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:44 am

+1 -lol

I think you explained it very well, but I would like to note that there are also frameworks of expertise and/or experience to which reality can never be firmly pinned. So, for instance, the way Jacob feels when he has to talk to a random person on a train about atmospheric physics is like unto how I feel when the person traveling next to me suggests Stephen King or Ayn Rand as candidate for "great novelist."

I spent a number of years of my life as the inventory manager of a very large bookstore located in the heart of a world-class university center and bastion of liberal politics. Therefore, I feel I am as well qualified as anybody to offer a rough estimate of the percentage of extremely well-educated people who would choose to read a book on the topic of atmospheric physics in their leisure time vs. something more akin to "Holidays on Ice" by David Sedaris. The ratio would be, at best, something like 1/50,000. However, the fraction of this customer base who would, after very quick (20 seconds?) skim of Jacob's resume, accept that he was qualified to offer informed facts and opinion on the matter would be closer to 49,964/50,000.

However, the times they are a changing, and global climate is now regarded as a much more important issue, so I would assume that the percentage of very well-educated people who are seeking to become better informed in this realm would be higher than it was 20 years ago. Unfortunately, even the minority of us who did successfully complete two years of education in university level physics in 1987, have forgotten 85% of what we previously knew, because after 3 years of reading nothing but La Leche League manuals and Penelope Leach, we were spotted asleep on a beach with a copy of "Chaos" serving only as sun shield (sigh.)

Another factoid I might offer based on my prior realm of experience as somebody who was actually paid to wander around trying to convince people to read books, is that it is very, very difficult to convince another person to expend the time and energy necessary to read a book based on your recommendation. I am always giving people books and saying "Just take it. Don't feel compelled to read it. Just take it, and maybe give it a look, and feel free to pass it on or whatever." So, I'm not sure whether the ease of acquiring a gloss of information on the internet is really making much of a difference. OTOH, I don't understand why people prefer to watch videos or listen to podcasts rather than just reading the same material in 1/10th of the time?

I guess it is possible that due to low barrier of publication, more people these-a-days no longer grok the difference between writing vs. just shooting some shit with the aid of a keyboard.
while brute's not going to argue that many humans now aren't dumb and uninformed, he's not sure that there's a "golden age" to be sentimental about,
Nope. Never happened. People have always been the same, and the best way to learn that people have always been the same is to read more of the great novels. For instance, a dose of "Moll Flanders" followed by "Tropic of Cancer" might cause one to take pause before applying the label of "sexual deviant" to any member of this forum ;)

User avatar
Ego
Posts: 3814
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:07 am

BRUTE wrote: what is jacob expecting? that humans learn ALL THINGS before having an opinion?.
Brute, there are two possible explanations for why you are so persistent at missing the point:

1) You are actively trying to miss the point because of motivated reasoning. You want to believe things that are unsupported by evidence.
2) You actually are missing the point.

Maybe this will help:

Rule #1: I must learn how to distinguish facts from fiction.

Rule #1a: When the topic is too complex for me to understand, I must try to figure out who really does understand how to make that distinction and listen to what they have to say.

Rule #1b: Since humans are prone to error I must watch for experts making Brute error #1. Thankfully, I have plenty of people who know more than me doing the same. The scientific method at work.

BRUTE wrote:now if a human isn't an expert himself, like mentioned, there's no way to identify who the real experts are.
Wrong. Scientists take pleasure in devouring those who make a mistake. It is the essence of the scientific method. If it is not reproducible then it gets exposed as wrong rather quickly.
BRUTE wrote: but surely not 100% of their beliefs were based on their own measurements, because that would be impossible. instead, most of what they "know" are actually "beliefs" as well, in the sense that they didn't measure them themselves.
Wrong again. You are misunderstanding the scientific method.

Spartan_Warrior
Posts: 1680
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:24 am

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:41 am

Worth considering that there are different kinds of "facts". There are the bedrock, reproducible facts backed by the scientific method, and there are also historical, political, and one-time-non-witnessed-event type of facts that are verifiable only by direct observation at the time of the event. The scientific method can verify with 99.999999...% accuracy that anthropogenic climate change is real, or that gravity exists, etc. Those effects can be measured, the conditions and models reproduced by multiple scientists to confirm it. On the other hand, the scientific method doesn't seem applicable when it comes to proving whether violence took place at a caucus or whether Russia hacked the DNC. Such "facts" seem to necessarily rely only on inductive reasoning based on uncertain premises from proven unreliable sources to establish their truth value. Or am I wrong?

User avatar
BRUTE
Posts: 2513
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:20 pm

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by BRUTE » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:48 am

@Ego

the scientific method says nothing about the social distribution of facts through society, it merely states one should make a hypothesis and then test it empirically.
Ego wrote:Rule #1: I must learn how to distinguish facts from fiction.
brute must definitely be missing something, because he would consider this impossible - that's his whole point. unless Ego saw the Bernie Bros throwing chairs with his own eyes, what's he going to do? ask someone? oh, relying on social information. looking at video? access to that requires social information, could be doctored, or selectively cut.

assuming that humans can distinguish facts from outside of their field of expertise from fiction is unrealistic.

User avatar
BRUTE
Posts: 2513
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:20 pm

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by BRUTE » Thu Dec 15, 2016 10:49 am

7Wannabe5 wrote:how I feel when the person traveling next to me suggests Stephen King or Ayn Rand as candidate for "great novelist."
brute loves both Stephen King and Ayn Rand, though they both might be more accurately described as endurance typists.

Papers of Indenture
Posts: 143
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:40 am
Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Papers of Indenture » Thu Dec 15, 2016 11:34 am

BRUTE wrote: almost. if Papers of Indenture likes Less Wrong, brute has a basilisk to sell him.

I don't think I liked it. It was just another phenomena to observe.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 9033
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by jacob » Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:08 pm

@brute - I liked your post but I did not see any mention of the importance of having a contextual framework for understanding facts and how the existence or lack of framework makes a huge difference in one's level of insight into a collection of facts.

Here's an extremely simple example, perhaps suitable to explain 3 year olds to 7 year olds' insight into numbers.

Lets say there are numbers: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 on a clock. That's all there is.

We also have a bunch of kids.

The 3 year old knows how to identify a few of them. And I'm going to do this in Danish just to make the point clearer. He knows en to tre. For added realism, put some mashed potatoes in your mouth and say it out loud: "en to tre". Basically he knows the sounds that corresponds to a few symbols on the clock face.

The 4 year old knows en to tre fire syv ni ti elleve tolv fem otte seks. He has 12 facts, namely 12 sounds mapping to 12 symbols .

The 5 year old knows en to tre fire syv ni ti elleve tolv fem otte seks and he knows entotrefirefemsekssyvottenitiellevetolv. Basically a rhyme that puts them in order just like how many people need to sing [part of] their ABC to figure out which letter is halfway between L and P. He has 13 facts: 12 symbol sounds and a song.

The 6 year old knows all the written symbols and all their sounds but he also knows that they correspond to numbers. E.g. he knows that fire means 4 and that it's a way to summarize 4 objects, like 4 apples. He also knows how to count. He has 12 facts, one framework (the sounds correspond to numbers), and one method (counting). Notice how he doesn't need to sing out entotrefirefem ... anymore to tell what comes after ni.

At this point, things speed up.

The 6.5 year old learns that for numbers higher than 12 (The world is bigger than the face of the clock), there's method for making the sounds for a given number. He knows how to say 85 even if he's never memorized what that number sounds like. Same reason you know how to read out 768,136,629,012 even if you were never directly taught the word for this particular number. While you don't know the word, you know the method for constructing the word, and that is as good as knowing the word.

The 7 year old knows all that ... but he also learns addition. If you give the 6 year old 3 apples he'll count 1-2-3. You give him two more. He'll count 1-2. You ask how many he's got, he'll count them all from the start: 1-2-3-4-5 --- he has 5 apples. The 7 year old will count 1-2-3 ... but then count on 4-5. And soon he will understand what 3+2 means (without having apples in front of him) and that it's 5. He knows about 30 facts (about the sounds that make up any number up to 10000), one framework and four methods (symbol->name, counting, adding by counting, and abstract addition).

I could go on to the point where the average math professor has a couple of dozen frameworks and many hundreds of methods. And the average adult human has few frameworks (numbers, fractions, simple algebra) and little more than a handful or so methods (+ - / * > = ^ sqrt). An average STEM with a bachelor degree knows several frameworks and a few dozen methods. He is much closer in ignorance to the average person than the average math professor when it comes to mathematical insight. Of course your average math professor is still below the combined effort of your average math department, that is, a collaboration with other math profs leads to more insight than being stuck doing your own thing in the library or the sociology department.

And maybe we can agree that such a process also happens for other fields: Reading, playing the piano, algebra, programming, woodworking, calculus, ... and even self-consistent models of the heat transport and chemical behavior of the Earth's atmosphere, land surface, and oceans.

What I see with post-factualism is the increasing belief that frameworks beyond one's personal comprehension simply don't exist!
("If I don't understand something, nobody else does either." Corollary: "I understand anything as well as any other person".)

For example, a statement like "nobody knows facts from first principle(*)" is essentially saying that we don't know that 2928 is the next number after 2927 as long as we've never personally counted that high. It's also saying that we don't know how to pronounce the number 72723358 because nobody has ever told us directly what it sounds like.

Now in the universe above, a statement like "we can't know facts based on first principles" would make sense to the 3 yo, the 4yo, and the 5yo. The reason is that none of them know any methods. Nor do any of them have a framework. To the kids at 6, 6.5, and 7 such a statement would seem rather silly. Of course they know what comes after 2927 and they know how to say "totusindenihundredeogsyvogtyve" without having memorized or seen this previously. They will also know that given a truckload of apples and the fact that there's 2927 apples in there ... then if they count them ... lo and behold there will be 2927 of them. If they somehow get another number, either somebody is lying or they miscounted but in any case, they KNOW that they could in principle (first principle that is) establish how many apples there are by doing a recount and maybe they will do the recount.

In other words, they know FACTS about 2927 from FIRST PRINCIPLE. The principle of counting objects.

(*) It occurs to me that some people might not know what "first principle" actually means ... but it refers to deducing a result based on established methods, such as counting or addition. In more complicated situations, like science, it means starting _without_ making empirical assumptions during the deduction. For example, calculating the Earth's orbital configuration (which are facts) from Newton's law of gravity (which is fundamental) would be knowing facts from first principles. On the other hand, calculating the configuration from Kepler's laws (which is empirical) is NOT knowing facts from first principles. One can however, derive Kepler's laws from Newton's laws. This means that Newton's laws are a strong framework for understanding not only facts about the world but also in explaining simplified frameworks like Kepler's.

Given the actual meaning of "first principle", it obviously means that saying that "we can't know facts from first principle" is bullshit.

Saying that "we don't have all the facts" suggests that the person lacks a framework to make sense of the facts they already have. In the example above, it could either be like a 3.5 year old who knows 10 symbols but sees that he's obviously missing some, like how to pronounce the word for "11". It could also suggests a 6 year old who believes that "nobody really knows how to pronounce 553,785,125,728,474" because he hasn't learned what the 6.5 year old knows yet.

Saying that "we need better facts" suggests that the person is unable to form or understand the framework because they're not really sure how to pronounce elleve or tolv because he hasn't heard it directly from a native or googled it on the internet. However, I presume that most people who have paid attention so far will have figured out that tolv = 12 even if they don't know how to pronounce it properly. And they also know that 5+7=12 and that 13 comes after 12 even if they never learned (from above) what the word for 13 is.

In other words, the existence of a framework and several methods can substitute for "not having the best facts" [sic] or "needing more facts". One does not need to know everything to know a lot already.

And I think it is the appreciation of that insight that's going away. That such frameworks exist and that such frameworks are useful.

Lets insert some social dynamics and go to kindergarten or preschool where we have a bunch of 4yos and a 6yo. In such a situation, it's quite easy to imagine that the 4yos will mutually agree that there's no such thing as counting numbers and because if counting is too complicated for a 4yo to understand, then nobody understands counting. In fact, there's no such thing as counting. In a group setting where the stakes are low (e.g. they aren't counting their pocket money), it's easy for the 4yos to democratically convince themselves that the 6yo is just going blablabla ... On the other hand, in an alternate universe, it might also be that a couple of the 4yos think that this counting concept is really amazing and try to learn it for themselves. It requires a certain combination of curiosity and work to do that.

To me post-factualism essentially is tearing down frameworks ... and yes they existed back when I was a physicist but the general public took them a bit more serious back then.

For example, if you can spread the general idea that the media is biased, you're essentially spreading the idea that the media doesn't have a framework for presenting facts. This has the side-effect that anyone can present whatever they want. There's no longer a belief that anyone knows what's going on in the world ... or more precisely, that everybody knows equally little.

Similarly, if you spread the idea that graduate level physics is "too complex for anyone to understand" based on your high school level insight or your one semester college course in "astronomy for non-scientists", you're also spreading the idea that even people who have studied and worked on this full-time for 10+ years also lack such a framework. You're pretty much operating under the impression that "because jacob hasn't spent 50 years tracking all the planets in a telescope, jacob doesn't know how planets move because Newton's law of gravity is too complicated to understand and jacob doesn't know enough to build a computer program that iterates planetary orbits based on Newton's laws and compute the position of a given planet in the sky in the future (but I do).

And goddamnit, but Newton's laws aren't based on a set of beliefs in the same way that one's opinion about the outcome of a football game or whether emacs is a better editor than vi are based on beliefs. I find it thoroughly disturbing that this is the impression I get from above. It's not such that there is a "political reality" and a "scientific reality". There's ONE reality. Then there's a scientific understanding of that reality. And then one can create a policy based on the scientific understanding of that reality or one could base it on voodoo or personal feelings or whatever. But it's not like there are different realities.

However, if enough people get it into their head that "this stuff is too complex for anyone to know", then it's pretty easy for a well-spoken person, say your friendly neighborhood astrologer to convince the average person that "we" don't really know about this planet stuff to actually say anything meaningful and therefore one set of facts ("Venus is in the third house and Mars in in ascension" and "This determines whether you'll find your soulmate next year") is as good as another set of facts ("the position of Mars is 45degrees azimuth and 136 degress right ascension at 8:00:00 in Chicago and based on orbital calculations it will be in a new position 24 hours from now with the following coordinates" and "There's absolutely no relation between the planets in the solar system and whether you'll find your soul mate").

Same thing: You can make policy decisions about space launches based on what physicists and astronomers know about planetary motions or you can make them based on what astrologers know. That's just policy. "Political reality" might be that it will forever be unpossible to convince more than 66% of laymen that rocket guidance computers shouldn't be based on astrology... but that's aside from science.

Heading back to preschool/kindergarten to illustrate where we have with complex subjects like politics and climate science... this situation is one of where we have ten 3 yos + one 5 yo and one 7 yo in our number example. Now, if the 5yo and 7yo start arguing about whether addition is possible, it will be quite easy for the 3yos to come to the conclusion that the matter of addition of unsettled. It's quite clear to the 7yo that the 5yo doesn't "get it" but it is not possible to explain why to the 3yos because they "really don't get it". It's also quite possible for the 5yo to believe that the 7yo is just making things up as well as for the 5yo to believe that he's smarter than everybody because he's clearly smarter than all the 3yos and maybe the 7yo is just bullshitting. And as for the 3yos they entirely lack the framework to make the distinction. All they have to go on is that the 7yo is in 2nd grade and the idea that people in the 2nd grade probably "know about this". Now, if the 5yo was willing to listen or read a book, he could learn. But imagine he'd rather go read a blog or listen to a podcast instead thinking that he already "knows all the numbers because he learned them in school".

Now, it used that the proverbial 3yo would realize that they didn't know enough to judge the case by its merits and therefore default to credentials: "Clearly a 2nd grader is smarter than a preschooler". However, in a post-factual world, that's going away. And that wasn't the case even 10 years ago.

PS: And since this has bearing on a certain thread, I suppose I should briefly establish my scientific credentials (which you can look up google scholar or arXiv for those who know what that is). I have PhD in theoretical physics and graduated summa cum laude (the Swiss system gives grades for dissertations). This was followed by five years of postdoctoral work. My work during those 9 years was in fully self-consistent computational simulations of the surface layers ("atmosphere and ocean") of neutron stars and white dwarfs. This [self-consistent] means FIRST PRINCIPLE stuff. I built models in 1D, 2D, and 2.5D (that's a cylindrically symmetric sphere) and simulated the fluid dynamics (how gas moves, winds and shocks), nuclear/chemical reactions in the atmosphere, heat transport (how heat moves around: radiation, advection, convection). These are what in climate science are referred to a "general circulation models" (GCM). I didn't just run stuff from other people. I built stuff too. The output was then compared and verified against astronomical observations (what you see through a telescope, either ground based or orbital). A few of my first-authored (<- meaning I was in charge/did most of the work) papers have been cited dozens of times. Now ... the physics and the kinds of models I worked on for that time are very similar to what's being used to simulate the earth hydro/atmospheres. Obviously simulating gases near room temperature in 1g (i.e. planet Earth) is much easier than the top of a neutron star. Point being, the physical METHODS are EXACTLY the same if if the range [of numbers in the metaphor] is different. I have a very strong background in this stuff, I am therefore able to read publications and understand what climate scientists (modeling: I'm extremely confident I know much more about complex physics systems than any skeptic I've ever come across... grain yields: I wouldn't have a clue ...) do and why they're doing it. This is why I'm able to to talk about it and also why I'm able to dismiss certain skeptic blogposts as bs or "missing the point" (even if they come from skeptic professors with a background in economics or geography) because it's very easy for me to see when/if they only demonstrate a familiarity with simplified models (what in astrophysics is called a "toy-model")---something that might look profoundly complex to an undergraduate but which to me falls under the "but doesn't everybody know this?"/"sure, but have you thought about this other issue". You will notice how I don't really have a detailed position on things that are outside my specialty even if I did took a couple of courses in them back in undergrad. For example, I have no position on solid state physics, like what is the best photovoltaic material or where is the ultimate limit (insofar it's not beyond 100% efficiency obviously) or where nanotube research is going. Point being ... the difference between taking a couple of one-semester classes and working and publishing in a field for 9 years (and that includes teaching some of these classes)... is HUGE and much larger than the difference between your average undergrad and your average high school dropout or adult member of society.

And yes, ... science is not based on beliefs about "facts" from other people. I'm sure computer science students recompile/look at source code to verify that their programs actually come from somewhere and check that applications aren't run by magic elves living inside the computer or appreciate that source code isn't just made up because nobody hasn't looked at single piece of software in the world :-P It might blow your mind, but science students do the same thing :o Forsooth, even in high school we measured the charge/mass ratio of an electron (Lorentz force) and showed how the electron charge was quantized (Milikan oil drop). If anyone seriously tells me that they've never done that, I'll believe them but I'll also believe that this is because HS education has been dumbed down further over the past 20 years, because I didn't go to a fancy private school. This was normal HS/standard part of the physics curriculum back in 1994. Later, I did lab experiments directly measuring sound speed in different gases, ... even got to play with a 400keV accelerator (the size of a small class room) for the final lab experiment. Overall I've done about 20 or so experiments measuring stuff. I've also collaborated closely enough with experimental physicists to be qualified to post on nucl-ex for a while (I'm sure I can't anymore because it requires staying active in the field). Now, I don't think any of that made me an experimental expert but I personally got close enough to believe that scientists who've spent decades perfecting a more detailed measurement would come up with a more accurate number than what a bunch of 17-23 year olds can do in the span of five hours. For example, the electron charge is now known to 8 decimals worth of precision. That's way better than the two decimals we managed within two hours in high school using a stopwatch and a caliper. Still ... high school(!!) ... and pretty close. In terms of temperatures ... yeah, I know how to read a thermometer and so I presume other people are able to do so too but do so more accurately over time using fancier instruments than I am. Surely you guys don't think that temperature records are established by wetting the paw of a puppy and sending him outside for 5 minutes and then listening to how much he woofs.

batbatmanne
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Sep 19, 2014 10:35 pm

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by batbatmanne » Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:52 pm

Ego wrote:Rule #1: I must learn how to distinguish facts from fiction.

Rule #1a: When the topic is too complex for me to understand, I must try to figure out who really does understand how to make that distinction and listen to what they have to say.

Rule #1b: Since humans are prone to error I must watch for experts making Brute error #1. Thankfully, I have plenty of people who know more than me doing the same. The scientific method at work.


Good stuff, and essentially what I wanted to respond. It is true that every individual human has a low limit of what we can be experts about, but this is too high of a threshold for what gets to count as knowledge for us. In science, everything from statistics to experimental design to data analysis that goes into an individual research project is itself its own field composed of peer-reviewed research constructed by experts in each field. It's certainly simplistic to think about all of science as following the same method, or even of having the same epistemic status, but one thing remains true rather ubiquitously: every field is composed of experts, and cross discipline experts, looking for a research project to make a new claim or to shit on an old one. When you have this process working at a large scale, it works as a selection process, or sieve, where the demonstratably false claims get filtered out and the remaining claims are those that no expert can demonstrate to be false. This is an immensely powerful apparatus that can be appealed to for knowledge, even by non-experts. The difficulty lies in distinguishing science from pseudoscience and this is a skill that requires much less development to be effective than those required to be an expert.

steveo73
Posts: 1125
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:52 pm

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by steveo73 » Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:47 pm

Ego wrote:
BRUTE wrote: what is jacob expecting? that humans learn ALL THINGS before having an opinion?.
Brute, there are two possible explanations for why you are so persistent at missing the point:

1) You are actively trying to miss the point because of motivated reasoning. You want to believe things that are unsupported by evidence.
2) You actually are missing the point.
I don't want to make this about Brute but I see your point. I think you get the evidence and then come to a conclusion. I think some people don't care about the evidence. Even worse is when the evidence is against your opinion and you just ignore it.

In stating that the idea that humans need to learn everything prior to offering an opinion or they need to be experts is patently false. This is just an appeal to authority argument. It's a way to avoid the facts. The facts matter not the classification of someone into an arbitrary camp.
Ego wrote:Maybe this will help:

Rule #1: I must learn how to distinguish facts from fiction.

Rule #1a: When the topic is too complex for me to understand, I must try to figure out who really does understand how to make that distinction and listen to what they have to say.

Rule #1b: Since humans are prone to error I must watch for experts making Brute error #1. Thankfully, I have plenty of people who know more than me doing the same. The scientific method at work.
Even this doesn't stand up well enough for me personally. I think though the scientific method is something that we can utilise.

I think that we need to discern the different between good quality facts and good quality data and poor quality facts and poor quality data.

If the topic is too complex then that is part of the facts. We need to state this clearly.
Ego wrote:Wrong. Scientists take pleasure in devouring those who make a mistake. It is the essence of the scientific method. If it is not reproducible then it gets exposed as wrong rather quickly.
BRUTE wrote: but surely not 100% of their beliefs were based on their own measurements, because that would be impossible. instead, most of what they "know" are actually "beliefs" as well, in the sense that they didn't measure them themselves.
Wrong again. You are misunderstanding the scientific method.
The scientific method is really a good place to start. We should check our assumptions. We should check our biases.

User avatar
luxagraf
Posts: 126
Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:32 pm
Contact:

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by luxagraf » Thu Dec 15, 2016 4:09 pm

Ego wrote:Rule #1: I must learn how to distinguish facts from fiction.
I could be wrong, but I think the point Brute is trying to make is that assuming there is a distinction to be made here is predicated on a belief, which is not fact, which obliterates rule number one.

Not to be too philosophy 101, but all frameworks for thinking are founded on beliefs, not facts. To believe that observation of the universe leads one to being capable of distinguishing fact from fiction is a *belief* that leads to a system for ordering the world. That this belief is the dominant one of our time, and that is seems to work pretty well (at least it enables some pretty amazing stuff), does not make it any less of a belief, that is, a non-fact.

Incidentally, the late Hellenistic period of Greek philosophy might lend some help in terms of how we extricate our culture from it's current post-whatever confusion. I'm not a history expert by any means, but generally speaking that's when the gradual collapse of Greek culture led to the collapse of most of the materialist/rationalist/atheistic schools of thought that had flourished for 400 years or so. We're not so original in our descent into Idiocracy and I suspect that our way out of it will be similar to how Greek culture got out of it.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 9033
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by jacob » Thu Dec 15, 2016 4:26 pm

@luxagraf - How did the Greek culture get out of it? I'm not trying to be rhetorically facetious about that question. I mean, didn't Greek civlization basically decline in importance only for a few of their smartest people to end up as teachers for rich Romans in the mid-run ... and end up in a financial clusterfuck 2000 years later. The only reason we still have a lot of their culture is because monks deemed it important to preserve it. (Yeah, something about Alexander the Great... but you get what I mean.)

PS:I don't thinking getting too phil101 is such a great idea. Going that far is not operationally useful when deciding whether it's a good idea to jump out the window from the 20th floor. We can sit here and agree that whether one falls down and turns into splatter is just someone's belief and that nobody who hasn't jumped really doesn't know whether they too will turn into sidewalk goo. But is such a discussion fundamental useful in any sense of the word... I don't think it is. In particular, I think it just might cause a few rare deluded individual to actually jump just to see... maybe they believe in Vedic levitation... so bad idea to go there. IOW, when it comes to jumping out from high places without a parachute, a belief is not just a belief.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 9033
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by jacob » Thu Dec 15, 2016 4:26 pm


George the original one
Posts: 4239
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by George the original one » Thu Dec 15, 2016 4:40 pm

Digging further into the Pew survey on fake news, it's interesting to see how it breaks down across political & economic lines:
http://www.journalism.org/2016/12/15/ma ... news_0-02/

User avatar
luxagraf
Posts: 126
Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2013 4:32 pm
Contact:

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by luxagraf » Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:52 pm

jacob wrote:@luxagraf - How did the Greek culture get out of it?
Politically they didn't. The romans came and did their thing... thanks for the ideas here's some heavy taxation to ensure your economy doesn't compete with ours. Culturally, well I guess that depends on how you define winning at culture, they have a couple of "blue zones" so they might be doing something right.
jacob wrote:PS:I don't thinking getting too phil101 is such a great idea. Going that far is not operationally useful when deciding whether it's a good idea to jump out the window from the 20th floor.
True, but it might be helpful to keep in mind when trying to convince other people to change a high level belief. To me it's like wheaton levels (or your Drew Carey clip above) there's no point in trying to sway someone's high level opinions about say, energy use, when their opinions are undergirded by an operational framework that holds that truth handed down from on high trumps observation of the world (assuming my beliefs are built on the observation of the world belief system). it's apples to oranges and a waste of time.

Post Reply