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Thought of the Day - The Cover Story
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Wed, Dec. 29th, 2004 03:48 pm
Thought of the Day

Saying something over and over again does not make it so. Sometimes you have wiggle room when things get touchy-feely, and you can say "I think this", or "I believe that", or "It is my opinion this", etc, but when something is hard and fast, directly observable, you can lie about it until you're blue in the face, but the world will not bow to your persistence.

Customers are annoying.

EDIT: Forget it, I'm sorry I said anything.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

28CommentReplyShare

sirroxton
sirroxton
Adam Augusta
Wed, Dec. 29th, 2004 01:13 pm (UTC)

Or, in Roxton-ese, your perception isn't useful. ;-)

The best solution is a good bowie knife.


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bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Wed, Dec. 29th, 2004 01:24 pm (UTC)

That's not valid Roxtonese! It doesn't use the word objectivity anywhere! (-:


ReplyThread Parent
sirroxton
sirroxton
Adam Augusta
Wed, Dec. 29th, 2004 01:59 pm (UTC)

Objectivism is an affront to all things decent in this world! How *dare* ye? Draw your sword.


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Wed, Dec. 29th, 2004 02:13 pm (UTC)

Oh, cool your metaphorical jets. I say objectivity, not Objectivism. You, more than anybody, should understand the difference the capitalization makes, no?


ReplyThread Parent
sirroxton
sirroxton
Adam Augusta
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 06:20 am (UTC)

Objectivity is Objectivism's ugly stepbrother. Sure, he can carry your luggage, but he's as dumb as a stump and only as useful as the instructions you give him.


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 08:01 am (UTC)

So you take the position that an individual's perception is useful to others?


ReplyThread Parent
sirroxton
sirroxton
Adam Augusta
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 08:31 am (UTC)

It can be. If I understood where your question was coming from, I'd give you a better answer.


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 09:20 am (UTC)
Go-go-Gadget Rant!

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is not meant to be pointed at anybody, I'm trying to express divides in opinion based on subjectivity. Any relation to actual people or events recently may have inspired, but are not directly linked, to arguments made here. The opinions this argument could be twisted to support or to assasinate the character of the Author are not supported or endorsed by the Author, so don't try to make conclusions about my political or social beliefs. I'm really sorry I have to put this disclaimer here, but welcome to Blogging.

Does the source matter? Suppose for a moment, I talk to a customer and attempt to solve a technical issue they are having. Suppose I ask them a direct question: How much memory does the machine in question have. They reply "120 Gigabytes", mistaking hard disk space for memory. Who is at fault here? There is one school of thought that says the customer is, for not recognizing the difference between what I asked and what he told me. There is another school of thought that says I should have compensated and been more clear in my question (i.e. "How much RAM does the relevant machine have?"). This question is academic, and does not matter, as any compotent technician can tell the difference in scale between modern memory requirements of a workstation and hard disk capacity of the same.

Now, lets suppose we take an example from military history: the change from the older term "invasion" versus the modern "liberation", thrown into most abrupt contrast in our recent incursion into Iraq. As long as there have been political borders there have been wars of conquest, so does changing the name of invading a nation and installing a new government inclined towards the interests of the invaders/liberators change the reality of conquest? Does the belief, heart and mind, of the "liberating" force, that they are acting in the humanitarian best interests of the people of the target nation, change the operation from an invasion to a liberation?

Now, suppose a young man is having conflicting feelings about his sexuality and believes he is more comfortable with a female self-identity. He changes his name, his clothing style, and begins referring to himself in all conversations and reports as female. However, the objective reality is that the person in question is still male, still has all the male plumbing, and is the proud (or shamed) owner of a Y chromosone, meeting therefore all the objective criteria for "male" as defined to describe humans that meet those conditions. Does his subjective reality of being female override the objective reality of his biology?

Finally, consider the divide between evolutionists and astrophysicists, and creationists and Intelligent Design subscribers (herein IntDesSubs). Now, the evolutionists and astrophysicists live in a subjective reality directly tied to what they observe, and the simplest explaination they can find for what they observe that is consistent with everything else they observe. Creationists and IntDesSubs live in a subjective reality in which there is a God that created all things, and built the word the way it is, and that is simple. Does the principle of subjectivity say they are both right, because they are correct in their own universes, or is one of their subjective realities wrong?


ReplyThread Parent
sirroxton
sirroxton
Adam Augusta
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 10:53 am (UTC)
Re: Go-go-Gadget Rant!

Good write-up.

Scenario #1:

We create useful models for working within our day to day lives. One is a model of responsibility. Fault does not exist outside this model, so to say "Who is at fault here?", seeming to describe some objective world in which people have or lack fault, is erroneous.

Are models arbitrary? Yes, but that doesn't mean they're random. They're selected because they're useful.

It is useful to suggest that companies should hire people competent in modern technical terminology to deal with expensive support personnel. As simple as that, I've created a role, and your client has violated it, putting him at fault within that role.

(Oh, and hard disk space *is* technically memory, but we'll ignore that.)

Why is my selected role useful? Well, we all want to get by in life with minimal hassle, right? Arguably, the system is more efficient under capitalism, another useful model.

Who decides what is useful? Well, you do. What kind of a society do you want? How do you feel about kids starving in Africa? It's hard to have a useful model if it isn't consistent, so you have to go back and forth between your personal aesthetic and your rational mind make that model. Hopefully you'll toss a bit of the golden rule in there. "Adam, what if my goals are purely selfish and I get into a position of power and decide to milk it for all its worth?" Well, shame on you. But thankfully some people came up with this useful notion called Democracy, which limits your power over others and the power of others over you.

Scenario #2:

It's useful to think of words as useful identifiers for partitioning and classifying elements of the models in our heads.

In our heads, we have a mental model of a military power entering a sovereign nation. But we're not satisfied to leave the model there, are we? The intent matters to our aesthetic, so it stands to reason that we try to classify different military engagements in different ways.

Just like it's up to the individual to decide whether a given action is "just" (where justice is another useful mental model common among individuals), it's also up to the individual to decide whether their understanding of a given word appropriately fits the situation.

The real abberation, in my mind, comes from people who don't recognize the subjective nature of these things.

Secnario #3:

Back to words as useful partitions. There are too many partitions in our head to match the English language. As simple as they once seemed, the words "male" and "female" are being usefully overloaded to a perceived dichotomy in character traits and inclinations. Pure semantics.

Scenario #4:

Discard the word reality for a moment.

In this apparently self-aware stew of what I've come to describe as my mind, due consideration and interactivity have made the notion of "other people" useful. There are mental models which I can usefully communicate and share with perceived others - I've come to usefully describe these as "reality" which I "perceive" through my "existent" "senses." Get the picture?

Mental models simply exist. They aren't innately right or wrong.

Anyways, astrophysicists and IntDesSubs both believe in a timeline, and they each believe that the other's mental model of a timeline is usefully reflective of their own. Only on account of this agreement can they argue about what that timeline contains. They both believe that the timeline contains a single history and that all clauses pertaining to this history must be mutually consistent. Hereby is the possibility for wrongness created consensually between astrophysicists and IntDesSubs.

Having willfully intersected the Venn diagram of their "realities" upon stern criteria, they have conjoined their subjective realities. Even subjectively, only one is right.

Either party believing themselves to be right is an entirely different matter. According to their terms of agreement with each other, they can still be wrong. They just assume they are right.


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 11:33 am (UTC)
Re: Go-go-Gadget Rant!

There are a great many things in your reply I do not understand.

(Oh, and hard disk space *is* technically memory, but we'll ignore that.)

Virtual memory is not memory. Don't be contrary for the sake of being contrary.

But thankfully some people came up with this useful notion called Democracy, which limits your power over others and the power of others over you.

How does Democracy limit power?

Just like it's up to the individual to decide whether a given action is "just" (where justice is another useful mental model common among individuals), it's also up to the individual to decide whether their understanding of a given word appropriately fits the situation.

But if different people have different definitions of the same word, doesn't that undermine the whole point of having language?

As simple as they once seemed, the words "male" and "female" are being usefully overloaded to a perceived dichotomy in character traits and inclinations.

I take issue with the word "usefully" in this sentence. (See my previous comment). Is it not better to comission a new word if we have a new concept to describe, rather than to try to change the meaning of a word we already have? "Pure semantics" this is not; it is the opposite of semantics. It is diverging a word into two mutually exclusive meanings, and worse, doing so (in this particular case), in a politically and socially charged environment.

Discard the word reality for a moment.

This is never a good step.

Having willfully intersected the Venn diagram of their "realities" upon stern criteria, they have conjoined their subjective realities. Even subjectively, only one is right.

I utterly fair to understand these sentences. I fail to see how the verb conjoin operates on the noun reality, much less how that leads to both viewpoints being either subjectively right or subjectively wrong. Could you restate this line of reasoning?


ReplyThread Parent
sirroxton
sirroxton
Adam Augusta
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 02:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Go-go-Gadget Rant!

Virtual memory is not memory. Don't be contrary for the sake of being contrary.

Well, it didn't contribute to the discussion, so that's why I put it in parenthesis. But no, really, in practice, I would not consider a person who called hard disk space memory incorrect. Maybe that's an EE thing.

But if different people have different definitions of the same word, doesn't that undermine the whole point of having language?

Structuralism. Yummy.

Language isn't always intended to convey information, but we'll ignore that for the sake of discussion. Human notions cannot be pigeonholed into a finite language. Conveying information is often a lot more difficult than simply jotting up your ideas to a linguistic specification. Using analogies and pointing out differences, you mold a person's notions like a potter, and then, if necessary (not always) you give those notions names. [Irony, much?]

New connotations and meanings are made from old ideas all the time. The problem is that new meanings are not propogated by changing the dictionary and having that dictionary filter through the masses. No, meanings are learned like memes. And the easier that meme is to learn, the easier the meme will spread.

The "perverted" meanings of 'male' and 'female' are easier to understand when presented with those words, because the connotations are already partly in our minds and it's a lot easier to express the suggested dichotomy of these "perverted" meanings by harnessing the existing dichotomy of gender. It's a natural, often infuriating, progression.

Line of reasoning in a nutshell--

Joe Creationist and Jane Astrophysicist subjectively acknowledge the existence of a single universal timeline and that the history of this timeline is the same for both parties. They subjectively acknowledge that all clauses partaining to this history must be self-consistent. They both acknowledge that a 6k year old earth and an ancient earth are not consistent. They both recognize, by (and only by) subjectively agreeing in a shared singular, self consistent timeline, that one or the other is wrong.

Therefore, even subjectively, one of them is wrong. They each assume, however, that the other is wrong. Just because someone assumes themselves right doesn't mean they are subjectively right. That's a misuse of the term 'subjective' IMO.


ReplyThread Parent
pezzonovante
pezzonovante
pezzonovante
Wed, Dec. 29th, 2004 05:26 pm (UTC)

Your doubt the word of Rand, your lord and master? I should kill you where you stand!


ReplyThread Parent
sirroxton
sirroxton
Adam Augusta
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 06:15 am (UTC)

Thou insufferable cur. By the time I'm through with you, you'll share in Sartre's bitter self-loathing!


ReplyThread Parent
ultimatepsi
ultimatepsi
Kate Nineteen
Wed, Dec. 29th, 2004 01:33 pm (UTC)

However, repeating your belief over and over will cause most people to stop arguing with you out of frustration. I think this causes people to believe it is an effective argument strategy and persist in doing it.


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bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Wed, Dec. 29th, 2004 01:41 pm (UTC)

Which results in one of two results: one side gets frustrated and walks away, or one side gets frustrated and escalates. Thus we have religious wars, hate crimes, goth poetry, and the Persian Gulf War, Mk II.


ReplyThread Parent
purly
purly
...
Wed, Dec. 29th, 2004 02:48 pm (UTC)

What caused this thought?


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bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 08:33 am (UTC)

No direct cause, just general annoyance at people trying to redefine a perfectly good reality.


ReplyThread Parent
petercooperjr
petercooperjr
Peter Cooper Jr.
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 08:50 am (UTC)

One could argue that reality is not currently "perfectly good".


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 09:20 am (UTC)

Reality is excellent, outstanding, a credit to the corps, and infinitely better than the alternative (-:.


ReplyThread Parent
petercooperjr
petercooperjr
Peter Cooper Jr.
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 11:35 am (UTC)

It may be all of those things, and better than any alternative. But that doesn't necessarily make it "perfectly good".


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 11:37 am (UTC)

No, it doesn't necessarily make it perfectly good, but lo, goes ahead and is perfectly good anyways.


ReplyThread Parent
sirroxton
sirroxton
Adam Augusta
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 10:59 am (UTC)

Redefine? You're talking as if it was defined in the first place.


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 11:35 am (UTC)

It is defined! Look at the chair you are sitting in. It has a color, a shape, a mass. It even has a velocity and an acceleration, and a plethora of other properties, as does every other object in the universe. How can you say reality is not defined?


ReplyThread Parent
ultimatepsi
ultimatepsi
Kate Nineteen
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 11:54 am (UTC)

On the other hand, our ability to perceive and describe objective reality is limited. Tell me where is your chair and how fast is it moving!


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 12:01 pm (UTC)

My chair is here. It isn't moving.

My point is that there are certain things that we fully understand and can discuss usefully. Somehow, that seems to get lost as people try to get creative about the way they think. OK, so I can't tell you the exact position and velocity of an electron. That's nowhere near the scale I'm trying to comment on. I'm talking about the world around us, what we can see, touch, hear, smell, and taste. To me it seems that taking things at face value isn't a bad thing, so I'm wondering where I diverged with the rest of the world?


ReplyThread Parent
ultimatepsi
ultimatepsi
Kate Nineteen
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 12:47 pm (UTC)

I can think of two ways that people can wind up with very different views of the way things are. Firstly, if the situation is distant from one's immediate surroundings, it requires notable effort to obtain the relevant facts. Most people, in my observation, will use second-(or more) hand summaries of the facts. Often, this is a fine way of getting information, but small errors as information changes hands can get compounded.

This problem is especially bad when it happens in combination with the second way views diverge. In many areas, notably human action, our understanding of why something happens is lacking. The factors involved in creating a situation can simply be too much for our brains. This leads to simplifications based on observation and extrapolations from these simplifications (mental models), both of which are often mistaken for facts. However, different people have different experiences which leads to different simplifications.

Does that make sense? Does anyone want an example?


ReplyThread Parent
sirroxton
sirroxton
Adam Augusta
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 02:10 pm (UTC)

Where did you get the word 'chair'? Why does this arrangement of atoms deserve a special name, and other arrangements don't?

Because the word 'chair' only has meaning in a social context. It doesn't have any particular meaning without you.

What's more, our laws of physics are just models to describe what we, as people, perceive. The laws aren't the *essence* of the universe, whatever that is. And what if "reality" has a hidden complexity that doesn't affect us in any way -- other forms of life completely and utterly detached from our ability to experience or measure them in any way. Does it matter?


ReplyThread Parent
sirroxton
sirroxton
Adam Augusta
Thu, Dec. 30th, 2004 05:40 pm (UTC)

Forget it, I'm sorry I said anything.

Aw, sorry dude. I meant for the conversation to be interesting, not exasperating.

I totally empathize with the notion of trying to avoid painting historical events with bias. It's quite impossible, IMO, but it's important to make an effort.

What's worse is that people have a nasty habit of putting things into a "greater context," when it's not useful to do so. Chair, here, not moving -- we don't have to talk about quantum mechanics or the nature of the human mind to usefully consider the f(*&*( chair, am I right?

Love and coffee, dude.


ReplyThread