Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Philosophical Weeding

The movie inspired the Trust, to fund improvements to the slums of Kenya.

My analogy is that minds do not only require weeding but a constant attention. This is education. Knowledge must be reestablished in each generation whilst our ignorance is a billion years old, an observation reflected in the saying, attributed to many: 'The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.' So the wise go by the evidence of experience as a part of knowledge, not it's Trump, not by using the encounter as yet another form of confirmation. Know one thing first - your mind was never 'built' by processes that favored the thinker but far more so those that assisted the survivor. What exists now however is a world far different from the environments that evolution acted within. The presence of postmodernism, which became the rule of no rules, of 'alternative facts' and contradiction, the pressures of academic globalization (the (over?) capitalization of education) and the unprecedented rise of the Internet have led to the spectacular profusion, or perhaps just the recognition?, of our addiction to beliefs which are not only bizarre but unmistakably anti scientific, overtly paranoid.

Humans are natural fools, all included, easily tricked by our own perceptions but also why we find the theatre and music so entrancing to begin with, why drugs and other behaviors are addictive and why we can revel in the simplicity of the direct experience, what to us feels numinous, magical but which is just a product of wonder, never to be confused with understanding. And, uniquely, we are also the only creature with the capacity to learn, to the extent we do, if we choose to. What learning we have achieved however did not come from wrote learning, from mere repetition of what others had already discovered. This is not learning at all, only mimicry, barely more than a chimp is able to do. Real learning is quite a different affair because it depends upon realizing the failed attempt - the test. without which we are unable to discern whether or not we have achieved success or failure. An honest process values falsification and philosophical cowardice avoids it. And it is here that most problems begin, not with the information, but with a mind that is such an efficient trickster that it would call our own ignorance and imagination real and guarantee it's immunity from reason.

The largest hole in education is actually epistemological, not informational. It is that we do not teach ourselves or our children to value thinking, nor what methods lead to a well examined life, only to value tradition and it's ability to overrule intellect absolutely. Tradition has no error correction systems or processes, being repetition only. Any claim that something supernatural for example is unapproachable by thinking alone has, if you notice, just contradicted itself. What is it that writes the words? Only fools and charlatans claim to be directed by unseen forces but one need only look around to see the armies of the similarly decent but gullible, the followers, to understand how easy it is for the anti intellectual to profit. We do not educate ourselves as to why our own minds would find themselves so effortlessly misled and why honesty is so elusive.

"If you cannot determine if your belief is false, how can you determine if it is true?"

If there was one line to recall for the budding wise person it would be this. Learn it by wrote and then apply the axiom, the truth of it, not to the speculative but the mundane, the ordinary. Try it out upon each and every question. Is there an elephant in the moon? Is there any possible way to say it's false? Then how can we determine it's true? The point is never to engage in wars of beliefs but to examine the manner in which we believe we establish reliable ones and, importantly, if we are honest enough to say we'd throw them away should they fail to meet that standard. Is it better to run across roads? Can we determine if the claim is false? Obviously yes, therefore we can determine it's truth. Is there a Universal Intelligence (the hub of chiropractic philosophy)? And the answer "We can't measure it yet", is not open minded, it is at best credulous and at worst the rule to begin prevarication - to lie that we know when all we are is ignorant. We have done nothing but avoided an honest response, an open exchange. You have witnessed the beginning of the worst of humanity - the beginning of a fraud.

So explained is the Poppers rule of falsification, what he defined as science and interestingly what he did not define as truth. He also mistook falsification for what it ultimately was - the kernel of ethics. So I disagree. Truth, as in an absolute, is as elusive as anything which cannot be determined - we do not even know if 'truth' is true, so quite the self contradiction, but we do know of many millions of true statements and we know there is only one reliable epistemology for it. So to pretend that truth is eternally uncertain is to render the whole excise one of masturbation, each in their corner going at it. Philosophers often make too much of grand visions while discounting reality. Only last night my daughter and I invented a 'dichotomous key', a way for working out problems (generally of natural classification), where each question only has two possible answers - yes or no. And so we worked through many true and false statements. Not only did we but as a result we came to understand the manner in which we begin to understand, not by jumping to the conclusion (I like to believe that Cassowaries are more closely related to Ostriches (so I can pass a test without needing to know or understand)), but by using an intelligent methodology - an honest approach, not a foolish one. So the word 'truth' is often uttered but never clarified and is always the perfect habitat or camouflage for bad ideas. "Who can say what's true?", is used by those who are afraid to learn, never those honest enough to take note that they do so all the time. "Is your name Susan?" Yes. "Then it's true?" Yes. To tie reality up in the 'truth' which no philosopher can find is finding nothing but bad arguments and lending a hand to confusion. It is not wise nor is it education. You might be more familiar with: "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Scientists, and those who fancy themselves as one, love to parrot this Carl Sagan quote, usually only the first half because the other: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" is not palatable if all one wishes to do is avoid embarrassment and pretend to know something.

Most problems emerge because of our very human proclivity for making up complete bullshit and calling it science and philosophy. We don't care if what we say is sound or robust, only that we pretend to ourselves and others similarly selfish or credulous, that it is. It doesn't matter if we can determine whether or not our beliefs are false only that we claim them to be true and you might be surprised at how much utter garbage is published in clinical sciences for example for the simple reason that it's epistemology - how the ideas were put together - was largely driven by traditions of faith thinking (whether or not it felt right or was a part of a gurus anecdote). To wit - There are dozens of derivations of Applied Kinesiology for the uncomplicated reality that it was stagecraft to begin with and consists of (genuinely honest) people with a slim grasp of neuroscience and epistemology stringing together what looks like something happening, when what is occurring is the equivalent of self delusion. Even the best scientists such as the Nobel Laurette, Richard Feynman, warned us against ourselves so this is the biggest mistake - we prefer to allow our colleagues to remain ignorant and are not ethically bothered that they continue to sell it to the public. This is not unusual but what is unethical, unprofessional, is to fail to bring it up. So while I appear to be a vicious critic, I write this because we are a profession, not a Sunday school. Without trying to sound to sentimental, I care, a far more persuasive compassion than the hollow claims of 'love'. In all but rare exceptions that word is only fit for pop songs, platitudes and the genuine experience.

As I've illustrated in my daughters example, such a 'method' of justification extends well beyond opinion and anecdote leading it away from religious attempts at comprehension towards reliable knowledge. Religions are a perfect vehicle for community and a shared sense of purpose however a wise person would be asking exactly how those purposes were defined. Questions are a right. To listen is the professionals duty, otherwise our methods only lead back to our own assertions, the purely circular argument. Why bother fooling ourselves? Why not just admit to preferences and excuse them from rational discourse? Preference is what I like to wear not what a truth might be. The answer of course is that our minds evolved to be quite naturally fond of fictions, not organized methods of thinking or problem solving, so repeating errors is something we do best. The fool pretends that enthusiasm or rank insistence is the equivalent of knowledge because hundreds of millennia of dumb survival ensured that each ancestor had no real way to discern whether or not the rumbling earth wasn't an irritated and clearly enormous monster or invisible being. Confidence mixed with rapid reaction was a clear winner in the evolutionary stakes, the equivalent 'formative years' as a species there was the purely pragmatic process of selection and survival. But it is wrong to assume that this narrative is nihilistic. Quite the contrary, our common story binds us all together, beyond the tiny tribal perspective. Traditions built on faith pretend unity and practice ideological secession, such a dull, repetitive and dangerous cycle.

Being a wise and intelligent species overall is a difficult challenge but hypothetically possible if education is put to the fore, not aligned with epistemologies designed to propel us in reverse. Best to begin with teaching children how to weed their minds of ideas that were honestly tested and found lacking.  We can be even smarter gardeners and examine the parasitic idea to see what went wrong and how to build a better comprehension. Only then can we build knowledge and retain the better idea, the better ethic and perhaps a better world.


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