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Posts posted by icosahedron

  1. It is really important to chew on the idea "knowledge is hierarchical" and understand what this means. Knowledge is not hierarchical in the sense of being best organized as a single static hierarchy. In database/info-modelling terms, knowledge is more like a "network", or even "relational". This means that there are many relationships that can be organized into hierarchies, but not just one way. The right organization can change with purpose and context.

    Edward Tufte, who wrote perhaps the most famous book on the vision presentation of information, is critical of the way PowerPoint is often used.

    Exactly! You need multiple, overlapping, and not necessarily one-to-one containment hierarchies. That is, for each quasi-independent aspect that you want to focus on, you need a hierarchy; and then, you tie the hierarchies, one for each aspect, back together at corresponding nodes, i.e., where they line up.

    This is exactly how transparency books of the human body systems work: each page layers on the next system, bone, organ, nervous, blood, muscle, etc. each system has it's own transparency layer in which it is a complete hierarchy; but you need multiple such systems to cover off the whole body, and they weave, interleave, interlock, tie up together at certain special points. Hence accupressure and related ideas, btw.

    Another system with multiple aspects interwoven that is common is a home, where plumbing, electric, heat, etc. must be routed efficiently and controlled centrally.

    This is the "game" we are playing with reality: multiple interlocking hierarchies of related aspects necessary to accomplish holistic knowledge. It takes at minimum two complementary but not identical aspects to understand a whole. Can you say: Tai-Chi?

    Maybe this will help: http://taoism.about.com/b/2008/04/02/the-yin-yang-symbol.htm

    Old idea. Now we have the technology to visualize it in real time. Fractals also about this same idea, if you turn them inside out you will see that.

    In fact, there are more than two, there are four aspects at minimum in any given entity. Inside/outside is one pair of essential complements; and this/that is the other. Inside this, inside that, outside this, outside that -- those are the 4 prime aspects in considering things.

    So there ought to be at least 4 complementary hierarchies necessary to complete one's knowledge to the point of full understanding of any given set of experiences, to the extent that those experiences contain useful information.

    By knowing that there ought to be at least four aspects to any given area of study, one won't be tempted to drop context and stop looking with a smugness belied by the lack of perseverance.

    Rules of the road. Nature of thought.

    - ico

  2. Do you believe that we are headed toward economic collapse and hyperinflation as proposed by many of the prominant free market economists such as Shiff, Faber, etc.?

    If so, how is the prospect affecting your course of action? Are you doing anything to prepare?

    Is anyone buying a lot of gold and silver?

    If I actually thought this was yet a serious possibility, I would be trying to find a decent place to build a self-sufficient life -- farm animals, vegetable garden, good house, maybe some close friends on an isolated property. I grew up on a farm so I can kinda take care of myself if I have some "seed corn" to start with. Point being, I don't want to have to rely on the grid for energy or food. My only problem is communication, I'd probably commit suicide if the internet was lost, it would depress me to such a degree because it would spell the beginning of a dark age -- literally. Not really, but that would be the thing I couldn't provide for myself, it takes other people. Other people are the greatest value to me for all sorts of reasons, as long as they respect my right to refrain from doing things if I choose to -- and my right to get what I deserve, bad if I do bad, good if I do good. Gold and silver will be less valuable than foodstuff and know-how and, dare I say it, guns, in case the world goes to heck, economically -- at least until things settle down. Then the gold and silver will indeed be worth a good bit as they will be the first currencies to come back into circulation in any size.

    The internet may allow the process of social degradation to be reversed, and society bullet-proofed from idiocy -- the power of so many minds communicating so quickly is unprecedented and the long term social effect is likely to be extravagantly different than even the most outlandish pundits predict.

    - ico

  3. II. Primacy of Existence cannot be proven

    A. Proof cannot begin by premising facts external to consciousness because that begs the question

    B. Proof cannot begin by premising facts about consciousness as that contradicts the thesis that facts external to consciousness must be known first before awareness of awareness is possible

    C. There are no other kinds of premises

    D. Primacy of Existence cannot be a conclusion

    E. "P of E" is self-evident not arbitrary or an act of faith

    F. "P of E" is axiomatic because existence is implicit in any and all instances of awareness, any attempt to deny it affirms it

    G. The third person external perspective when used to explain consciousness is implicitly a primacy of existence perspective.

    A. Proof cannot begin without having a functioning thinking apparatus, which must exist at minimum as such a facility that understands what proof is. As soon as you reference proof, you reference the existence of your facility with such apparatus, and hence you reference, by containment, Existence.

    B-G: Similarly.

    I don't see the issue here. Existence came first, I'm along for the ride -- or maybe I should say, inside for the ride.

    - ico

  4. Powerpoint is an inferior tool in this day and age if you really want to present sizzling, hyperlinky stuff. Which is ABSOLUTELY a better way to present knowledge. Peikoff was not being metaphorical: knowledge is hierarchical, and one's organization of it ought to reflect as closely as possible the structure of it ... with appropriate unit economies used to reduce its size without disconnecting pieces of it, folding it up "algorithmically" and "structurally" so that it fits in one frame of thought at each "page", but allows quick navigation to deeper and/or more over-arching concepts.

    You want a hierarchical containment structure as base representation, and you won't want to allow self references, so XML is just fine and nicely transparent. And can be flipped onto a hyper-linked web format with ease. Within each node, you have a set of referents plus (a set of) boolean predicates defining how those referents were chosen from among all the entities of one's experience. The root node refers to the set of all things that one has experienced. A conceptual structure, or framework if you will, is an individual's means of classifying experienced things into categories by identifying their similarities and differences. This is naturally a set-theoretic process of REDUCING the set of all things into smaller, related subsets -- and then creating sets of these subsets. This is a fractional distillation of sets of experience to refine them, plus a re-factoring/re-association of the refined components into one's chosen structures; the purpose is progressive efficiency of thought and resultant leverage vis a vis executing one's plans in reality.

    Ditch PowerPoint, it is woefully limited and will never catch up. Even PDF format is preferable (and actually has some coolness in there from what I've seen). But at the end of the day, it's the combination of sets of experiences that are as complete as necessary to make conclusive identifications; and a classification structure, an abstraction framework, a containment hierarchy to break down the sets of experiences into more refined sets, and then also build back up more general ideas across sets. All this can be done with XML or equivalent to represent class types and class hierarchies and class instances and class evolutions; and then tools can be used to display in browsable fashion.

    - ico

  5. At the end of the day, however, God is a postulate with no evidence, i.e., an arbitrary postulate. And one can, if one cares to, realize that even the postulate of God may not contradict the facts of Existence without becoming invalid; however, that is NOT the sort of "God" that traditionally is associated with the sound/symbol "G-O-D". THAT God, the God of the various monotheistic philosophies, contradicts him/her/itself, and therefore Existence, in some fashion. Contradictions not only cannot exist, they do not exist, period!

    So, if you create the perfect God in the image of Existence, all you have done is reflected Existence back onto itself, which while at least not destructive of other people's time, neither does it aid others; and it is a waste of yours, too, because neither does it give you engineering advantage over planning your future (success).

    Basically, you end up wasting time and phrasing things awkwardly to preserve an idea that has no useful function that is not already covered by some other idea. God is irrelevant. That is why faith is a matter of choice and may not be restricted; but knowledge, by the same token, may not be a function of faith.


    - ico

  6. As an afterthought, if my hypothesis is more or less correct, then anything that alters brain chemistry can have the effect of altering the process of forming associations among neurons, and hence likely result in a different dendrite web that gradually forms and might have formed otherwise (and may or may not be reformable, not sure there is good science on that yet).

    In particular, medications which alter brain chemistry as a side effect should be looked at very closely prior to use. My arch-example in this regard is cholesterol lowering drugs. Cholesterol is instrumental in allowing the body to insulate nerves so they don't jangle too much, and the brain is chock full of cholesterol (those on low cholesterol diets will not be eating sweetbreads). If your ability to produce cholesterol is lost for some reason, you die a horrible, screaming death of extreme pain within very short time. So I seriously doubt the wisdom of using cholesterol lowering drugs except in cases where the cholesterol is so high that it is a clear and present danger -- otherwise, you may be disarming the brain and nervous system of a primary means of regulating stress and emotionally generated physical responses. The result may be brain cancer or alzheimers over prolonged exposure ... these drugs haven't been around long enough for the long term side effects to be noticed, let's wait and see if I am not correct in my plausible hypothesis.

    - ico

  7. Okay, the video is pretty simple to explain. The baby thinks it understands the nature of its mother better than it does any other single entity of its experience -- even including itself! And it has never before seen its mother NOT respond in her characteristic ways, so this is an unparalleled pattern of behavior for this creature that the baby thought it recognized so well. Interesting! Let's explore ... and maybe get a bit uncertain, learning new things here, wonder why mom isn't "normal" all of a sudden ... hmmm, in a new place too, strange ... etc. The baby alters its behavior as a cognitive response, not primarily an emotional response. The emotional response is secondary, upon evaluation. If the mother started doing this regularly, as a joke say, then the baby would quickly regulate its behavior also. It does prove that the baby is evaluating the data of its senses both cognitively and emotionally, very nice experiment which I will suggest to parents.

    As for the possibility of irreversible psychological damage, any such damage must have a physical manifestation; and if that physical manifestation is destructive enough, and not stopped and even reversed, then the psychological damage will also be irreparable. There is a feedback loop where mental and emotional patterns get etched into the dendrites, so if the dendrites become too chaotically interlocking, it may be difficult to recover use of parts of the brain. Long term evasion has the effect of chopping the brain up into islands of dis-coordinated groups of idiosyncratic neurons. No, I can't prove that. It's a hypothetical claim backed up by what I do know, if poetic and imaginative on the mechanism. If the mind is warped far enough for long enough, it won't be able to recover because the holistic cross-linking necessary to create higher-order concepts will be permanently damaged in the physical substrate -- however implemented, that is the principle, the same one that causes granules to form in old cheese.

    So, yes. But it usually requires a blunt instrument.

    - ico

  8. Alright I must admit I missed the "quiet and 100 yards away", tho' I'm still not happy being exposed to that when I'm grieving. But I guess I can get philosophical about it at that point -- still don't get how this is free speech, rather than free assembly. Is the media just calling anything under the First Amendment "free speech"? Or did the Supremes actually state it that way?

    And please: free assembly and free speech are different. Neither of these are the root Right (life, property, self-determination -- one of these will do, depending on how you do the math -- they are logically equivalent if properly stated in any case), but both are deducible from the root.

  9. Not arbitrary, hypothetical, something which doesn't contradict acceptable science.

    You mean, like there might be Martians we haven't found yet? That's arbitrary.

    BTW, I never suggested that the law of Entropy is false and my construct doesn't contradict it since I postulated an internal source of energy which will last very long time, although not for ever. Indestructibility could be achieved by using intrinsic self-repair mechanism based on atomic assembly nano-technology. There is no such a thing as "for ever", but as long as such a being exists,( and it will be very long time) it wouldn't have any survival needs and it would be indestructible. My claim that such a being-call him trans-human if you wish- will be moral by the virtue of being sapient. If you disagree, please bring up philosophical, not technical arguments. I constructed this hypothetical organism in order to discuss morality, not physics.

    True, but you are confusing "a long time" with "eternal", psychologically. A long time looked at from the perspective of an even longer time is a short time. Time periods are relative. Presumably, if the creature is alive and conscious, it will die of boredom if it does nothing. It needs something interesting to do, and it knows it has a long time to do it, so it will pick something ambitious, eventually. And then it will want to improve its project. And eventually that death knell will loom large, because it will want to keep improving the things it cares about.

    Time is relative to the scope and scale of what you are doing with it -- which will expand to fill the available time.

    The problem is, eternal is NOT the limit of a progressive sequence of greater and greater units of "a very long time". So even your hypothetical is on the clock -- and it can't help but know it, and that will affect its behavior.

    You can't escape from reality.

  10. Let me change the context slightly to show you what I see.

    Imagine if someone decides to stand in the street out front of your house, yelling obscenities at/about you at the top of their lungs so that you can hear them over the television and can't sleep because of the noise, and holding signs that indict your character, and harassing you and/or your visitors as they try to pass.

    What are the essential differences between this context, and standing outside a funeral doing the same thing -- other than the fact that, at the funeral, the obscenerators are actually subjecting EVEN MORE people to their temper tantrum?

    Free speech means free expression, not freedom to yell and scream and generally harass others.

    That's my point: expanding rights beyond their natural meaning is just as dishonest and despicable as restricting rights.

    - ico

  11. Au contraire, mon frere Grimes: it MAY BE a positive development, long term, if it wakes the honest folk out of their slumber. The world wars were awful, but as they were unavoidable, they did provide an excuse to blow up the fascists -- and to this day, European politicians are wary about being labeled fascist, which is a good thing.

    People in a fog will wake up when they see some sharp light source, even if the only light sharp enough comes from the headlights of a mac truck bearing down on them at high speed. It may be too late for them so save themselves, and that would be terrible, but they will wake up.

    The problem I do have with predictions of military doom are that, if it's so predictable, then why don't we just nuke 'em now, while they are still "babies" economically, before they can catch up militarily? That is the natural consequence of assuming that war is inevitable; if it is unavoidable, then put down "Leaves of Grass" and pick up "The Art of War", where Lao Tzu makes clear that one should choose the time and place for battles to one's greatest advantage.

    - ico

  12. This is just despicably, disgustingly, wrong.

    I was using the word "test" in a literary sense, as in, "a severely retarded individual cannot do what is natural, cognitively, to a healthy human adult".

    And your reasoning applies equally to people in comas, (they can't "pass the test" of being human in that state, either) so of course any form of euthanasia other than assisted suicide is verboten -- and assisted suicide is hard to prove voluntary after the fact, so it's probably not wise to allow that, either, as a rule.

    Sorry to hit the nerve, Grimes.

    - ico

  13. Agree wholemindedly, Thomas. I did not mean to suggest any sanction for abrogation of rights, or maintenance of the status quo which does so abrogate the rights of doctors and patients ... and now, even healthy people who are going to be taxed to pay for the sick ones.

    What makes me irate is that I am being taxed to subsidize practices that have been shown to be wrong for many patients, yet the pill pushers just keep on pushing. Cholesterol lowering drugs for people with total cholesterol below 200 is criminal, IMHO. Blood pressure meds for people below 140 is just not right! It's too risky! You'd be better off smoking pot.

    - ico

  14. I know that although I would like to have a romantic relationship again in the future, I would sooner go to my grave not having had one, than to have one with the wrong person.

    It sounds like this one is the wrong person (though not nearly as wrong as the one I just got out of).

    "The wrong outfit can ruin your day; the wrong person can kill you!"

    - ico

  15. - I have issues with anxiety and OCD, ...

    THIS is what caught my eye. Your body (brain is part of the body) is telling you something important, and it sounds as if the therapists you have visited have a tin ear.

    I would take the time to let go of whatever old tensions have wound you up. It is likely a cumulative effect, across your whole lifetime, like winding up a clock spring. You probably can't even piece together why you feel it, but there it is. There is a residue in your body which is affecting your mind -- even though it is likely that the problem started in the mind, e.g., from holding to contradictory standards that you may have inherited from parents or society without critical thought when you were too young to know better. Or maybe it was a combination of illness or disease of the body, coupled with a young, pliant, receptive mind that didn't know any better than to push stress away until it has built up into a chronic tension that won't unwind itself without a lifestyle change.

    I recommend getting your stress worked out, preferably with physical means such as accupressure instead of meds (hope you aren't on those, but if so, try to wean yourself slowly but surely -- don't take risks, but don't take meds long term either -- they degrade your cognitive machinery when you need it most.

    Once you have cleared up a good bit of the tension (yes it is imminently possible in my experience), you will have way more "space" in your life. At which point, I'd guess your beau will fall by the wayside, but maybe not -- but in any case, you will be in better position to choose a lover, and love them -- if you choose to.

    As long as the tension is there, you will likely have a tendency to emotionally "hiccup", which may lead you to behave rashly under pressure or when bored. It's not really fair to expose another to your pent-up frustrations, but if you have been direct an honest with your beau, then it is his choice and you can't be too worried about his feelings -- you can't feel for him no matter how good your imagination, and so let him deal with his feelings.

    If you DO break it off with him, try relaxing into yourself before setting off on another romantic adventure. You'll get a lot done professionally in the down time, but if you also take the time to give yourself some seemingly much needed attention, you'll discover you are much more capable of juggling professional and personal items. Then, make your own decision, and don't apologize if that is to remain single.

    Don't neglect your sexual needs for too long, either -- assuming you have a normal sex drive, letting it rust won't help your tension.

    So that was all over the map, but I have suffered extreme tension to the point of paralysis for more than a decade, and only recently have I discovered that the root issue is philosophical, and hence emotional, in that my old emotional responses were automated by default against other people's philosophy, and my body/mind chose to push the contradictions into my body instead of letting them impact cognition too much. So my mind stayed alert, if "type A"; and my body became sick. But, that is better than the inverse, "healthy" body with sick mind -- and easier to cure. I guess your tension could be bled off from your body, making room for your mind to dump more on the body, and then rinse and repeat until you bleed it all off.

    This may require taking time off from your busy schedule, maybe a sabbatical -- from relationships, too. You need to find out what is the root of your imbalance and correct it, then give the refreshed you a chance to "accumulate".

    Ask yourself: what do I feel? why do I feel it? until it becomes almost automated. If you can't understand why you feel the way you do, then you have some work to do. But it is worth it, I promise.

    Try this simple technique which I discovered, just before you go to bed: soak your feet in the hottest water you can stand for 30 minutes, with a mild cold pack on top of your head to induce convection currents from your feet on up. You should sweat more or less profusely from your face by the end of the 30 minutes -- if not, you may want to have your glandulars checked out, unless you are genetically pre-disposed to not sweat (can that really happen?). So simple, but so effective at relieving ambient stress. Good for minor tooth problems, too.

    I am more and more convinced that, for rational adults with chronic pains or dis-eases, the non-invasive physical therapy route is the simplest and safest way to work the kinks out. Only if that fails would I suggest stronger measures.

    And that is enough of that, even for me ... 8)

    - ico

  16. Whether a given doctor or a class of doctors can or will cure your ills is not the issue here; the issue is one of the government having no business deciding what doctors can and cannot do, outside of physical force or fraud. I think doctors tend to take the easy way out and the conventional cure / pseudo-cures because if they don't play it safe, government *will* come after them. In a profession that is increasingly being considered guilty until proven innocent, what else can they do? But this is a primary reason why doctors need to have their individual rights respected. More freedom means better treatments. And the individual or the public should not consider the doctor to be out to get rich at their expense. If you don't want to pay, don't take the treatment. And doctors are not omniscient, either, though some people have the attitude that a doctor should be able to cure anything, whether it is possible or not; and then wants to sue him in court if he can't be cured. So, a lot of things need to be changed, but having doctor's individual rights respected is a good place to start to leave them free to cure people that can be cured.

    I see all that, but I think it is too naive. First off, it is not like the treatments which I would choose for myself are covered by insurance. Even a doctor's prescription doesn't necessarily qualify my choices as coverable in this day and age. And that is the doing of a good number of the doctors, who want to control the field and prevent valid competition. Now, I don't think my chosen treatments SHOULD be subsidized, but neither should the traditional treatments.

    I am a bit biased because I taught organic chemistry at Harvard in the mid-80's when I was a doctoral student there, and you would not believe how cynical the pre-med students were about this subject. You'd think it would be an important one for pill pushers to be knowledgeable about, but no -- it was dang hard, and the pre-meds, to a person, constantly complained about how hard it was, and were only interested in getting a good grade in order to make it into med school. And they were arrogant about it to boot, as if were I to grade them as they deserved, on an absolute/objective scale (which would have meant failing up to HALF the class in some semesters!), then they would have their parents call up the school and get me disgraced. Sheesh: I actually had one young thug accuse me of racism because I failed him with good reason! Of course, his assertion was a bald-faced lie and nothing came of it, but it sure soured me on pre-med students. I doubt that med school straightened them out, but hope that some figure it out when they get into the real world. Most don't, I've come to find out.

    You wanna see a doctor squirm? Try asking tough questions, logical questions, probing questions, pointed questions about your treatment, ask for the why's and wherefore's. See how far you get before you reach the tether of their knowledge and they start pulling rank, smiling patronizingly, and generally getting irritated at you for "wasting their time". Sheesh! We're talking about my health here, tough guy -- can I get a straight answer?

    So maybe I'm soured. But that's my experience.

    - ico

  17. *** Mod's note: Moved these posts here, from another thread. - sN ***

    Based on this, it would appear that the severly retarded do not have any right to life.

    The severely retarded fail the test for being human: they are not rational beings.

    Therefore, they do NOT have the (political) right to life, in the sense meant by the Founders, i.e., the right to unfettered if rational pursuit of happiness, because they aren't capable of exercising it. The right to life is a consequence of the nature of Man; but a severely retarded person is NOT a Man by definition, any more than a brain-dead patient on life support is.

    Now, these creature do have feelings, they do scream in pain if poked with a hot stick, so, like dogs, they deserve compassion and sympathy at least; and that is enough, because that will cause some to act in their aid. Let good will do the work, legislation is not called for.

    I am so so so fed up and sick with people trotting out the sick and wounded in a feeble attempt to convince me that I should pay taxes so they can sleep at night knowing that the severely retarded or what have you are cared for.

    I don't believe in euthanasia, but neither is pouring resources down a rat hole wise. Let people who care, care. Leave off stealing from the rest of us to pay for the ideological axes of few bleeding hearts.

    Frankly, if I found out that a fetus in the womb of a woman I inseminated was genetically broken, I'd argue for an abortion post haste.

    - ico

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