Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Logical Fallacy Repository

Below is an unofficial listing of all logical fallacies that I can presently think of. It will likely be updated from time to time. I hope that it's useful to someone out there, even though I'm not including definitions for most of these for now. If you want to know more about some of the undefined fallacies listed below, look them up on Wikipedia.

Last update: 12/11/10

Update: This list, while somewhat tentative, is most definitely of note, as it functions as a working, agile repository for all fundamental cognitive pitfalls and errors in reason. The more of the different kinds of extant mental glitches that you identify, the better that you will be at troubleshooting your peers and their belief systems.

1. My proposed fallacies/fundamental fallacies

- Qualification/categorization error - Any error where a quality is falsely attached to a concept, often in an attempt to make qualitative comparisons, or to categorize concepts. Descendant: argument from assumption (Note: argument from assumption does not necessarily have to be the result of a qualification error)

- Argument from assumption. Descendant: argument from generalization

- Argument from generalization. Descendants: induction error, deduction error

- Induction error - A particular is true, so all things sharing its quality are also true with respect to a phenomenon; an idea within a particular category possesses a given quality, so all concepts within the category also possess the quality.

- Deduction error - All things that we've observed with a quality are true with respect to a phenomenon, so a particular of these things is true despite never being demonstrated to be.

Note: Induction and deduction errors can be avoided by avoiding the process of arbitrary categorization altogether. Definitions and categories are often essential, but where multiple concepts exist, it is usually better to abstract their shared category into its constituent ideas or parts.

- Reduction/abstraction error. Descendant: false dichotomy (see below) 

- Appeal to emotion/appeal to identity - I want to believe it because it makes me feel good; I'm afraid of it being true, so I don't believe it; I believe it because it's part of who I am and I must never compromise my identity.

- Argument from personal experience

- Argument from anomaly - It's anomalous and unexplained; therefore, aliens, ghosts, etc. exist.

- Argument from unlikelihood of counter argument - What you're proposing is statistically unlikely; therefore, what I'm proposing is more statistically likely.

- Argument from finite knowledge - We don't know everything; therefore, what we think we know is probably incorrect, or may only appear depressing/scary/negative/bad because we don't have the whole picture. When we do, we'll see how amazing what we'd already been familiar with in the past really was all along.

- Logical inversion - Placing effect before cause.

- Argument from false analogy - A presented analogy is touted as representative of a scenario or concept; the analog or analogs present in the analogy are nonsensical or otherwise negative; thus, the original scenario or concept is falsely presumed nonsensical or otherwise negative.

2. Traditional fallacies accepted by the scientific and philosophic communities  

- Argument from popularity/argumentum ad populum

- Argument from faith

- Argument from ignorance - A concept must be true if you cannot disprove it, or it must be false if you cannot prove it.

- Appeal to nature/appeal to naturalism

- Appeal to authority (doubly bad when the person appealed to is, as it would turn out, not an authority on the subject after all, and is merely an authority on some subject)

- Confirmation bias/wishful thinking. Descendant: cherry-picking

- Cherry-picking. Descendant: quote mining

- Quote mining

- Cognitive dissonance - related to appeal to emotion, but is a more general display of two or more dissonant mental processes which hold opposing views as they compete for brain space

- non sequitur

- Slippery slope

- Special pleading

- Begging the question/circular reasoning

- post hoc, aka correlation/causation error - Two events are correlated in an arbitrary way; therefore, one directly caused the other.

- Moving the goal posts. Descendant: god of the gaps

- God of the gaps

- False dichotomy/dualism/binary mentality - a particular form of a reduction/abstraction error; reduction to two categories is the most common, though there are a myriad of other forms -- as many as there are numbers.

2a. Personality fallacies

- Poisoning the well

- Character assassination - related to poisoning the well, but pertaining to the overall character of a person rather than to a particular argument or point

- Guilt by association

- ad hominem

2b. Diversion fallacies

- Red herring

- Information pollution

- Strawman

With potential for future inclusion

- Appeal to empiricism/skepticism - Because we don't have evidence that it exists, it doesn't.

- Appeal to extreme skepticism - We can never know if it's true under any circumstance.

Note that this repository opens up the possibility for a hierarchy of fallacies warranting some form of decomposition.

Explication of modus operandi and its constituents

I've decided to hold off on part IV for now, because I have no idea whether anyone is ever going to read this blog, and I don't want to get carried away. I am definitely interested in finding avenues of promotion, but not yet; I have several other projects in the works, and would prefer to synchronize their promotion when the time comes.

So, for now, I've come up with two lists to keep this thing going -- a list of cultural preconceptions that absolutely have to be overcome if we're ever to actually repair reality, and a list of things that I associate with my modus operandi.

The Eighteen Major Myths of Modern Western Society

1. Sexual acts are to be committed between two individuals at a time. In the rare instances where this is not the case, lovers will share their significant others sexually, but will remain in a two-person relationship, which they view as vital to their happiness as humans.

2. Securing a job is of the utmost importance. Without money, people cannot buy food or routinely pay for a shelter, so they starve to death.

3. The economy needs to be as strong as it can be, and if it falters, we should do the best we can to keep it afloat.

4. All men [and women] are created equal, and possess specific innate abilities universally. Anyone can achieve any physically possible goal with the right amount of dedication and patience; further, all human beings are granted inalienable rights at birth by some absolute principle, e.g. the right to freedom of religion.

5. Increasing the average lifespan of a given population correspondingly increases the quality of living for that population; quantity of life and quality of life are one and the same.

6. Individuality and independence are important -- the former for realizing potential diversity in the society, and the latter to escape the grasp of one's progenitors, as their property will not be inherited upon their deaths.

7. There is no higher goal than becoming 'someone' in life. Through an individual's finite accomplishments and achievements, he or she may assume a concrete, isolated identity with which to better the world.

8. A major contributor to high quality of life is a good education. Through institutions, we can both augment our knowledge base and acquire the skills necessary to contribute to the well-being of society. These skills are to be applied at a job for an arbitrary period of time, until it is decided by other humans that it's okay to stop and retire.

9. We know what's best for ourselves, and are free to pursue it until death, uninterrupted. Anyone who claims to know how to make us happier than we currently are has some ulterior motive, such as personal material gain, so he or she can't be trusted; further, if the claim is made in earnest, its source is still unjustified, because he or she hasn't experienced life through our eyes.

10. When not at work -- legitimizing our existences through finite contributions -- the best way to spend our time on Earth is by indulging in the various privileges earned by our service. These include but are far from limited to: buying mass produced material goods (electronic goods in particular), listening to music, watching television, and socializing at parties and clubs.

11. Music is a part of our identity; further, its core functions are 1) to satisfy us emotionally in times of hardship, and 2) to enliven celebrations and parties. Music must be rhythmically oriented in some fashion in order to be officially called music (though certainly not melodically), and should ideally culminate in our clapping, singing, dancing, tapping our foot, or otherwise synchronizing our bodies to the rhythms.

12. While saving the environment is crucial for our own survival, we shouldn't put too much effort into it if it impedes our daily modes of living. Examples of requisite modes of living in modernity include commuting from a suburb or city to a place of work, or using electricity to heat a home. If this is not believed, then it is believed that it is possible to save the environment by driving fuel-efficient vehicles or taking shorter showers.

13. For order to be maintained within a society, laws are necessary. If our inalienable rights are to be protected from villains, we have to allow those at the top of our societal hierarchy to imprison or otherwise punish said villains. It's okay to revoke the otherwise inalienable rights of a villain -- such as the right to life, or the right to the pursuit of happiness -- should his or her atrocities be taboo enough.

14. After family, friends*, and possibly God, pleasure should be valued. Nothing is better than sexual orgasm, being high or otherwise intoxicated, or eating a delicious meal.

15. Humans either were created by the Christian God relatively recently in the forms of Adam and Eve -- who instigated the fall of man by way of a forbidden fruit -- or evolved over thousands of years on the African savannah to become masters of their environment. This latter view can be extended to include the idea that humans eventually gave up the brutish, unorganized existence of living in caves for the luxuries of civilization -- a choice which benefited all who made it.

Before, starvation was prevalent, and anyone could have been eaten by lions or tigers at a moment's notice -- or perhaps killed by a venomous snake. After civilization's emergence, people were finally able to free themselves from the pursuit of basic needs and consequently specialize at illustrious occupations, affording the whole society both diversity and luxury. Note also that those who subscribe to the latter view do so with arrogance and pride, believing that 'nature' and man are at odds with one another, while those who subscribe to the former view look upon themselves with scorn for being inherently 'sinful.' Neither conception of man is accurate.

16. Language, clothing, and shelter distinguish man from the other living things on Earth. It is paramount that we wear clothes everywhere we go; it is impossible to survive without some kind of house to encase our material goods; and humans have always used complex symbolic language.

17. It's important for nations to exist to the end of preventing a world superpower from taking over. Humans should use their capacity for symbolic thought to first conceive of personal property. Beyond this, that capacity should be augmented for the purpose of erecting national territorial boundaries; in the case of both creations, an individual has the imperative to be proud. This is in contrast to what a very small percentage of animals do, which is to fortify themselves as members of local populations by allowing their instincts to impose artificial boundaries between themselves and rivals of their gender, or to impose similarly artificial boundaries between the group as a whole and a rival group (who must be physically present to even be acknowledged). Note here that many self-proclaimed nationalists (National Socialists in particular) reject the Enlightenment altogether, but that their realization that humans do not possess inherent metaphysical worth is rendered impotent as soon as cognitive dissonance prevents them from observing the same condition in nations.

18. We must have children.

* - like family, but introduced to the social group after birth; tied by hobbies or interests rather than property, finances, and genes; and less likely to stick around for an individual's lifetime.

My modus operandi

I'm against the use of mind-altering substances where there is no controlled mechanism of action or interface -- including alcohol and marijuana.

I'm against having children in the context of the current situation of all sentient life on Earth.

I'm for euthanasia.

I'm for the sterilization of most or all sentient organisms.

I'm for eugenics.

I'm against all closed systems of thought, be they religions or something else.

I'm against any government or state whose rulers are individual human beings or groups of human beings.

I'm against representative governments.

I'm against the monetary system.

I'm against legacy wealth.

I'm against all forms of ownership -- of goods, property, ideas, or even oneself.

I'm against arguments in favor of something based on its popularity.

I'm against imperialism.

I'm against capitalism in all of its forms.

I'm against any so-called "rights," especially if they are considered inalienable.

I'm against paper proclamations, or "laws."

I'm against any kind of absolute statement of fact, so long as the entity making the statement has a finite scope of reality.

I'm against morality, which is pure superstition -- whether in its absolute, relative, or "utilitarian" forms.

I'm against anarchism, or the lack of a state.

I'm against the construction of defined, and thus closed-off, belief systems of any kind; as we learn, our systems should be updated.

I'm against nationalism in all of its forms.

I'm against belief or certainty of any kind, so long as our scope of reality remains finite; it's more practical to simply behave as though we believe something for the purposes of prototyping or otherwise testing it within its respective environment.

I'm against any kind of absolute generalization, whether of the inductive or deductive varieties.

I'm for the development and implementation of virtual, augmented, and simulated realities.

I support, at least in part, both the Venus Project and the Zeitgeist Movement, though I think that they could benefit from a lot of refinement.

I'm under the impression that the gods of the Old Testament -- YHWH, El Shaddaih, Elohim, etc. -- were predominantly volcano and water gods in their earliest incarnations, and that all Semitic religions, the vast majority of which are now extinct, stem from the same source.

I'm not against promiscuous sex when it's controlled and handled responsibly.

I'd be against sexual intercourse for an ideal society, as it promotes preferential thinking and possible social conflict.

I'd be against sexual and romantic relationships for an ideal society for the same reasons.

I'm against absolute monogamy for its emphasis on exclusivity and favoritism.

I'm against competitive sports.

I'm against all non-productive forms of competition, especially when there is a social risk involved.

I'm against donating to charities, and the concept of charities in general.

I'm against the inclusion of general education studies, with the possible exception of English, in educational programs aimed at developing a skill or skill set.

I'm against deadlines, arbitrary appointment times, mandatory attendance, or any kind of societal coercion that does not directly eliminate a problem from society.

I'm in favor of the implementation of confinement and rehabilitation centers, though they'd need to be stringently maintained based on a coherent and effective value system.

I'm against the modern prison system, as well as retributive and punitive punishments.

I'm for the separation of children from their immediate families for the purpose of placing them into youth centers, where programming and conditioning would be controlled; also, it would eliminate the parent bias, and decrease preferential treatment of humans.

I think that, instead of there being individual humans on planet Earth, there are hundreds of identical copies of propensities, biological drives, inclinations, mental faculties, and senses within each human organism that compete with one another; in essence, there is no substantive difference between the pains and pleasures of one sentient organism and another, despite the application of divergent evolution over hundreds of millions of years.

I don't think that pain and pleasure are opposites or of equal value, nor do I think that they evolved simultaneously.

I think the lack of space trash in our galactic neighborhood and over forty years of deafening radio silence indicates that other intelligent lifeforms are probably hundreds of millions of light-years away at the least, if they exist at all.

I think that we should pause and think more often about the uniqueness of our linguistic capabilities in the context of billions of years of evolution, and what this says about the likelihood of finding other intelligent lifeforms in the universe.

I also think that we should pause and think more often about the observation that all life on Earth has descended from a common genetic blueprint; there is no evidence that, even in the earliest days of life on Earth, other attempts at life ever competed with our blueprint.

I ultimately think that the most profound aspect of our existence on this planet is that we haven't been able to recreate life in a laboratory in over fifty years, and still have no idea how it emerged here in the first place.

I think that Ray Kurzweil's transhumanist philosophy is unrealistic and simplistic in its neglect of most of the technological variables involved in exponential growth.

I'm for meritocratic practices, certifications, and mild specialization of labor.

I'm against nepotism, oligarchies, plutocracies, etc.

I think that the elimination of negatives from the universe far supersedes the creation of positives.

I'm against the perpetuation of sentient life without a valid justification, and find the mass neglect of our current circumstance to be grossly irresponsible.

I don't think that global warming is a very big deal.

I think that peak oil will prove completely inconsequential and irrelevant to our lives.

I'm in favor of the logical, unimpeded, and pragmatic competition between memes for the purpose of improving governance, socialization, and, ultimately, reality as a whole; this means that meme agents cannot hold onto or zealously defend memes or cultural preconceptions while attempting to make points, and that neither ideas nor any other finite aspect of a person should ever constitute his or her identity.

I'm for the unification of language on Earth, and am consequently against linguistic redundancy of any kind.

I think that criminal sentences, the pricing of goods and services, age requirements, and many other number-based aspects of our lives have no basis in physical laws, and are therefore impractical.

I'm against the quantization, compartmentalization, or categorization of reality where it is perceived as anything other than practical and convenient.

I'm against caste systems and all forms of social hierarchy.

I don't think that quantity of life and quality of life are equivalent.

I'm against implicit privacy.

I'm for the introduction of logic curricula into elementary schools.

I'm for the Internet equivalent of a non-profit, government-run, PUBLIC library.

I'm for Google alternatives, and think that Internet indexing has been hijacked by spammers and cheaters.

I'm against technological, medical, and economic advances when the ends of those means are harmful to the majority of the human species, the meme pool, or sentient life as a whole; in other words, should curing both cancer and aging promote the indefinite expansion of human civilization into space without consideration for the consequences, for example, said cures will ultimately do more harm than good.

I think that it's sad that humans still determine whether other humans are worth spending time with based on sexual attractiveness and other arbitrary preferences.

I think that no statement can currently be considered to be an indisputable fact, including this one; truth and knowledge are incomprehensible to humans, though neither is relevant to any truly pragmatic effort at the moment.

I am pro-collaboration in most instances, especially if competition is the alternative. This blog, for example, would be much better if it were run like Wikipedia -- a goal that I hope to accomplish someday.

I'm probably going to add more as they come to me. If anyone ever reads this blog, hopefully these lists will elucidate what it's all really about.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Repairing Reality - Part III

Last time, we learned that memes are the base units for transmitting information in human-based systems. We also learned that culture, in promoting static thinking and belief, is an inefficient and archaic method of selecting good memes over their inferior counterparts. Today, we'll take this knowledge and apply it to some tangible problems that occur on our planet. We'll also discuss the basic methodology and tools required to accomplish the task of solving these problems.

Before we do that, though, let's define decomposition. Decomposition is the process of breaking perceived problems into functional primitives, or the smallest, most basal units possible for use in the systematic evaluation of the problems. If we decompose problems into a hierarchical set of primitives, we can much better determine from where child problems -- which descend from parent problems -- inherit their characteristics.

So what's so bad about the universe? Isn't it a wondrous, beautiful place, open for exploration and learning? Sometimes. Keep in mind, however, that without a functional purpose, we are blatantly ignoring what the unbiased, emergent systems we've constructed demand -- and what our individual psychologies as biological organisms are dictated by. We may have the capacity to enjoy our existence, but that should not imply that the universe is an inherently 'good' place to be, nor should it imply that the perpetuation of life for its own sake is in any way valuable or responsible. Below is a hierarchy chart of what I've determined to be the two most pressing problems in the universe.

The Problems

1. LOGIC: Humans are susceptible to memes and lack the requisite cognitive algorithms for filtering out bad ideas; in essence, meme agents are just as problematic as memes.

2. SENSATION: Physical sensation, desire, and emotion all distort the human animal's ability to practically filter the ideas mentioned above, and aid in the process of biological preservation at the expense of productive work. Further, negative sensations in particular are, by default, the only truly "bad" things in existence, as our five senses utilize binary determinants for survival. There is currently nothing that can be demonstrated to be more valuable than the elimination of negative sensation -- a mechanism of action that is separate from pleasure, and one that probably evolved independently. As such, pleasure is an inadequate means of compensating for the existence of negative sensation; therefore, only the outright elimination of negative sensation is valuable.

With the above in mind, it can be said that fixing 1. takes precedence over fixing 2., as 1. hinders our ability to work on 2. Repaired human logic, flowing as a process on continuous, open systems of thought free from all cultural biases, will subsequently serve as an aid in solving the second problem.

Decomposed from 1. above:

Underdeveloped mental algorithm; poor/illogical cognitive programming
I. Absolutism; assumption; definition; generalization; belief
        i. Condescension; dehumanization
        ii. Arrogance; certainty
        ii. War and other forms of violence
        iii. Apathy
        iv. Other kinds of social conflict

Decomposed from 2. above:

Physical sensation, desire, and emotion
I. Spectrum 1: Negative desire-positive desire (fear-desire)
          i. Attachment (internal)
                  i. Attachment to assumptions and beliefs
                          i. Cognitive dissonance; confirmation bias
                          ii. Personal enmity
                          iii. Selfishness
                          iv. False sense of security
                          v. Creation and maintenance of a static personal identity
          ii. Fear*
          iii. Attention-seeking and other kinds of social pretense (external)
                           i. Fame and recognition
                           ii. Sense of belonging to a particular group
                           iii. Disregard for progress or potential truths in favor of what makes one "look" the best in society
                           iv. Individualism; populism; democracy; argumentum ad populum
II. Spectrums 2 and 3: Negative sensation-positive sensation; negative mentation-positive mentation (negative emotion-positive emotion)
           i. Distractions; further distortion of mental algorithm

Note: All 3 of these sensation spectrums originate in attraction and repulsion; the actual, physical sensation of being scalded with a hot iron, when examined without attachment or reaction, is hardly different from that of an orgasm; it's just that the brain sends additional signals of attraction or repulsion which dictate the degree of pleasantness or unpleasantness resultant from the sensation, in spite of its similarity to a sensation which gets interpreted in an opposite way.

Note 2: None of the "desire" problems would exist without 1. or 2., but are directly caused by 2.

Note 3 (on the title of the second problem): Desire, which breeds fear and lack of confidence, is what causes people to cling to ideas after they've been demonstrated to be inefficient or improbable; it's also what causes people to view the search for understanding as secondary to the search for cliques and friends. When philosophy, or any facet of our lives, turns into a social event, we compromise our ability to function rationally. An example would be someone who chooses to become a Christian because his spouse is a Christian. Cognitive dissonance will act as an agent of deterrence from rationality, because, due to low self-esteem or doubt in himself, the person converting will alter his values from the most logical ones for the sake of being accepted.

* Fear and attachment cause one another. Attachment to a preexisting notion requires fear of losing whatever perceived benefit the notion provides, but this perceived benefit is itself contingent on a second notion -- in essence, a second attachment. The second attachment exists due to fear, ad infinitum. This is an information loop which terminates in an infinite regress, which may explain why humans are so prone to logical fallacies.

You may be wondering how these problems have been decomposed, or how the general process of decomposition tends to work. What methodology and which skills accomplished this basic layout? The following are all necessary in any system we come to utilize in our lives; we'll go into more detail later about how to pragmatically manage the below process, as well as what some of the key tools do..

The Process (skill set + methodology)

1. Fundamental principles of value (what - output) and data processing/information theory (how - process)
2. Scope definition
3. Pattern recognition
4. Abstraction
5. Decomposition (into functional primitives) and parameterization
6. Set theory
7. Regression analysis/relational analysis
8. Sequential logic/cause-and-effect analysis/conditional analysis to ascertain sequence of relational sets (note: conditional in the sense of non-linear process requiring preset conditions; if/thens, etc. Very useful for acknowledging the unlikeliness of the existence of categorical absolutes)
9. Risk analysis
10. Qualitative analysis
11. Logistical analysis
12. Cost-benefit analysis (opportunity cost)
13. Ultimate assessment of available prospects and potential default actions

Core Process

Initial assessment (scope, goals, etc.) > initial analysis > (if process or system modeling) design > building (if process or system modeling) > tentative conclusions > implementation (when technology comes in, where applicable)

The System (tools, hardware/software)

1. Data processor (brain)
2. Cognition algorithm(s) (high-functioning thought processes and routine questions for breaking down scenarios)
3. Operating system/mental programming/conditioning
4. Memes
5. External meme agents
6. Genes
7. External phenomena attractive where genetic predispositions exist

Goals: Maximize and minimize outputs via parameters using the above set of tools as a collective system, which runs a continuous process; assess prospects via the above tools, then decompose a problem not only into parameters, but also, subsequently, into cases in which to run scenarios.

Note: Many of the above methods fall under the heading of systems analysis.

Note 2: Most of the above methods constitute the act of solving a problem with a system/model rather than the act of building and designing a system, though some apply to both. Those that apply to both are therefore relevant not only to process management and systems development, but to data integrity as well. Process management also usually includes various meta-processes.

Note 3: All of the above methods, skills, and tools, as part of a dynamic process run on a dynamic system, are subject to change or removal. How this refinement occurs falls under process management, though in a limited fashion, as all systems will be emergent.

Note 4: Obviously, emotion also interacts with desire, but this hierarchy chart is somewhat limited in that it is necessarily linear.

Additional things to keep in mind: functionality of the system; quality of outputs; systems must be emergent, continuous, dynamic, and open for an indefinite or undefined period of time; the human brain is also a system which runs a process arising from both that system and the external agents (other systems) with which it interacts; I am, therefore, a process involving multiple systems, all of which share relationships; our brains interpret data real-time, using an interpreter as opposed to a compiler; cultural conditioning is a form of mental programming, as is any learned subprocess or subroutine

Now that we understand where to start in building our societal systems, and have a general awareness of the problems that we as sentient organisms face, in part IV, we'll take a look at the process of model-building, pragmatism, and what it means for ideas to act as maintainers of systems. We'll also go into a bit more detail about some of the above listed tools, methods, and problems.

Repairing Reality - Part II

Last time, we looked at what constitutes memetic selection. As it turns out, the process by which memes are selected over their competitors has been very poorly defined -- and quite flawed -- ever since human beings began to share information through language and culture. Culture, contrary to the opinions of just about everyone, is a negative component of our lives, as it promotes static thinking. There is no culture which does not hold some superstition or other kind of preconception at its core, unchangeable if only because replacing it with something superior would be frightening to the populace at large. This static approach to ideas is an enemy of progress, for it encourages humans to grow attached to their beliefs; once attached, they become rabid proponents, unwilling to listen to reason and afraid that the idea in which they believe, should it be compromised, will leave their identities vulnerable.

Ideas are cast out all the time in favor of new ones, and this is a healthy part of learning. However, if a particular idea is associated with a person's identity, or proves to be part of the kernel at the core of the culture, rationality quickly falls to the wayside as fear and emotion take hold. This phenomenon is most evident when subscribers to religious myths encounter members of the "scientific community," though it is far more pervasive as a whole than that particular instance.

Unfortunately for most people, there is no one finite thing which has the power to define an individual. Serial killers cannot be "bad people," because some of them are reformed later in life. Likewise, someone who makes an important scientific discovery is not a "great man," because there may be other aspects of himself which are unhealthy. Just as technology is constantly being upgraded, so, too, are individual human beings; resisting this process for no other reason than because it makes you feel good to cling to your preconceptions, or because you enjoy "showing off" your identity in social settings, is dangerous. Our minds, by their very nature, are open systems; data is constantly being input into them and shaping how they operate. Cultural biases, preconceptions, and various forms of assumption hinder this process.

So, getting back to part I, why should the systems we use to maintain and evaluate our society be emergent?

Methodologies, though tentatively defined by the processes which birth them, must be emergent; otherwise, like in the case of any system predicated on a finite origin point, there will be an infinite regress of processes, each preceded by a system with built-in methods for how to produce its respective process. Instead, then, we should use an open system, predicated on an open methodology, and these things will be emergent.

Searching for the origin of a system and its preceding process:

1. Guidelines and methods as part of a systematic process for constructing a methodology
2. Methodology - a set of methods and guidelines for solving problems and operating/maintaining systems
3. What the methodology is applied toward -- usually some kind of system, prototypical or otherwise, as it runs a process or sequence of processes -- in an effort to solve a problem or set of problems
4. The output or product of the system in the form of more guidelines to be used in constructing the next methodology

In other words, people would be asking: if a system was designed via a methodology, what system designed the methodology, and by what process? This would continue ad infinitum, and therefore is impossible as a mega-process in the context of the human species.

Note, also, that methodologies differ from paradigms in that they have the capacity to remain open indefinitely, thus enabling them to change with time. The latest laptop is never the "final" design (though this could change at some point if there are real informational limitations built into existence). Remember that, though reality itself appears to be predicated on causally interconnected data, it is not necessarily linear, nor would contemplating finite origin points be an efficient or practical approach to understanding that data.

With the above in mind, harboring a small collection of finite beliefs and practices, or a culture, is extremely inefficient and archaic. The alternative is to allow ideas to compete with one another in an unbiased medium -- utilizing systems such as the human brain, sans cognitive biases and preconceptions -- as our database, and hence scope of reality, grows. This can only be facilitated and conducted if we eliminate all current models and systems in favor of an emergent, dynamic system, continuously running and open to all input.

In part III, we'll identify the two core problems that plague reality, then decompose them into their respective functional primitives. We'll also outline the tools and basic methodology we'll be working with to tackle all the problems we encounter as we live life.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Repairing Reality - Part I

Before we can embark on any mission to solve a problem or produce a result, we must always define the process by which our ideals are selected, using some basic process management. With our five senses, we can glean that reality appears to be both deterministic and systematic; if this turns out to be a correct assessment, then we should keep the following in mind at all times throughout our lives:


What is a system? Simply put, a system is any construction capable of 1. receiving some kind of input, or data, 2. processing the data using the constituents which maintain the system, and then 3. generating an output, or some kind of usable information. Generally, systems are either open or closed. They are found all over the natural world, but can also be manufactured by humans for accomplishing tasks. Both society and the human mind are examples of manmade systems.

Memetic Selection

Memes are reproducible ideas that can be transmitted from system to system. They form the basis of all human societies, and are generally interpreted using a syntax-based language. Incidentally, they are also the core of most problems plaguing the human species, for the current method of selecting and approving them is inefficient and poorly defined -- a topic to be addressed in part II. The idea that health care reform is a waste of tax payers' money is an example of a meme -- it has a clear premise and conclusion, and is very easily passed on from one agent, or system, to another. A meme agent is any system capable of running a process through which memes can be executed.

Memetic selection, like natural selection, operates by discarding inefficient operants as the environment -- that place where all the data comes from -- changes. If an idea appears poor, it can be selected against in favor of an environmentally superior idea, just as one organism or species can be over another in natural selection.

Memetic selection is influenced chiefly by two mechanisms of selection:

1. Culture (arbitrary/practical)

2. Logic (practical when context is applied)

Please note that, unlike in the case of natural selection, [human] meme agents possess cognitive foresight. This means that, not only can they select ideas best suited for the environment, they can also reserve outdated or inefficient ideas by means of a temporary cache (should resources and carrying capacity allow), as the problem of belief is currently incomprehensible to the human animal. This would be akin to mother nature freezing or otherwise preserving the dead bodies of all organisms in case those 'forms' again become suitable to the emergent environment at a future date.

So how do we refine our current systems hardware -- human brains, computers, etc. -- to best accommodate memes as they come and go from our environment? The default option is to allow the systems to naturally emerge -- with some light process management and systems development. This means that all cognitive biases, which are descended from an enemy of progress called culture, must be eliminated! More on this in part II.