[OT] State of the internet

Bob Sneidar bobs at twft.com
Wed Oct 3 17:10:33 EDT 2012

This all goes to another principle I have, that no two parties in a debate will get anywhere at all, unless both have the grasping of truth as their highest priority. Both parties must love truth. If either party has proving they are right as their goal, neither will get anywhere. People like that think they are secure in their beliefs, but are actually not secure at all. One only needs to introduce a few more "facts" (though they need not be true) and you can get them to do almost anything you want. Wars and revolutions begin this way. 

You might say that truth is different things to different people, but that is not what I mean by truth. I mean "the way things really are" as opposed to "the way we perceive them". The first is what I mean by fact. The second is I suppose what we might mean by reason, or what reason leads us to think. But even reason must tell us that there really is an inexorable nature to all things, and if we are mistaken about that nature, it's not nature's fault but ours. It also, by the way, ought to tell us that everything we base on our misperception of a things nature is going to lead to more errors down the road. 

If we are ready to shed ways of thinking when facts disagree with us, then we might get on. I would only caution that, as with my original post, we are almost never (I would venture to say absolutely never) in possession of all the information we need to make really informed decisions, and the very best kinds of deception in this world involve telling just the right truths, and skipping just the right ones. 

To quote a very wise man, "Test all things. Hold fast to what is good." And for the sake of those who really don't want to know I will withhold the author. You can readily find it if you google it. 

On another note, I would say that one reason we love to develop or work with computers, is that it is an environment that has at least the perception of being completely knowable and predictable. Given all the electrons are flowing from point a to point b as engineered, we can tell a computer to add one to one and we will always get two. Oh there is still a lot we don't know, but it seems clear to us that the pool of knowledge is at least in theory, not infinite or unattainable. 

In real life we can do all the right things and have everything turn out oh so wrong. In our computer worlds, all works as it ought to, and if it doesn't, why we KNOW that there is a tangible reason for it. The CPU overheated. The preferences file got corrupted. The developer made a mistake and there is a bug. There is a point we know we will get to if we try hard enough where we will say, "Ah hah! Got it!" 

In the real world we will probably never know why most things happen the way they do. But being somewhat older now than I used to be, it dawns on me that it doesn't matter that I know. I'd probably do all the wrong things to fix it, because having gained all knowledge, I still would lack understanding and wisdom to know what to do about it. 


On Oct 3, 2012, at 11:50 AM, J. Landman Gay wrote:

> On 10/3/12 12:04 PM, Timothy Miller wrote:
>> Maybe the presumption that regression lines go on to infinity
>> represents a universal human cognitive bias. Humans are not rational
>> creatures, though we like to think we are.
> I'm sure it's a human trait. We are very good at pattern recognition, and a straight line is just another pattern.
> Bob's comments about having the facts was partly right-on and partly not. I was reading an article yesterday that said we only "hear" facts that we agree with, and which reinforce our already formed views. That's why it is ineffective to present pure facts to counter emotionally-based opinions like religion or politics. You have to alter the bias first before you can use facts to reinforce your argument.
>> I read an amusing article in Behavior and Brain Sciences. The gist:
>> People are so bad at reasoning that many scientists wonder why they
>> evolved to do it at all. If reasoning is usually wrong, then it would
>> not likely have any reproductive value. One theory is that people
>> don't reason to be right. They reason to win arguments for the sake
>> of increasing their social status. That would explain 99% of
>> political and religious conversations, wouldn't it?
> The same article I read says that humans are mentally lazy. We need to choose what we consider because if we didn't, we'd expend all our energy evaluating things. So instead we find what works and presume from there. The problem with this is that sometimes what works most of the time doesn't always work universally.
> I don't have a link to the article unfortunately because it came in through the RSS feeds I scan daily and it has now evaporated into the ether. But it was on Ars Technica yesterday.
>> Conversely this is why talking heads on TV and experts commenting on
>> the future state of the internet get it right about as often as a
>> monkey with a dart board.
> But given enough time they can reproduce Shakespeare. :)
> -- 
> Jacqueline Landman Gay         |     jacque at hyperactivesw.com
> HyperActive Software           |     http://www.hyperactivesw.com
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