Preaching from the Peak: A Conceptual Parable for the Information Age

[Warning: This is a very different post from what you may be used to. It has multiple layers.]

Come with me on a thought experiment where I will play with your perceptions. To begin, you must blank your mind and, try as best you can, to empty it.

Successful? Good.

Now, what do you perceive? I should be the only thing on your mind right now, besides perhaps a persistent perception of yourself. How do you perceive me? Can you see me in your mind’s eye? Or am I more like a disembodied voice in a cave, speaking to you in ethereal tones? Perhaps you see me like some miserly old man, hoarding knowledge and secrets in his ivory tower. The way in which you perceive me will influence how you perceive my message; no matter how carefully I encode it, meaning does not exist until you decode it. And in order to decode my message, you take several things into account even if you are not aware of these things. Decoding is largely a process of perception, but it is also a process of assigning meaning; in other words, your very reality is constructed as you decode the world around you.

Allow me to treat you as tabula rasa, now. I will explain the story of the world to you; even though you think you know this story, and I think I know you think you know this story, I will be telling it anyway.

Imagine this image is like a tarot card I’ve slid across the table to you – a visual aid to help with the myth I am making. It is obvious to some that the world was begun in chaos, and as time passed, the world slowly worked itself into order. This is a very simple idea which is validated by pedestrian observations –mustn’t this be the case, we ask, when we realize the relative order we perceive as we age? Life begins chaotically and proceeds unto order. Minor pockets of chaos, swirls of disorder, are smoothed out by the immutable and eternal flow of time – this is the way of things, optimistic and reassuring despite evidence to the contrary. Perfection is merely a function of eternity. Or so some perceive.

Don’t like that tarot or what it implies, wanderer? Don’t worry. I probably have the world view for you somewhere in my stack. Here, try this one. Can you decode the reality here? I’ll lend you my aid – this is a more cynical outlook, though not necessarily a fatalistic one. A person who thinks like this feels like the good old days are in the past and the future doesn’t hold as much promise, yet this isn’t enough to get too worked up about. Life goes on, after all, and even if the future isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, you still have a life you’ve got to live.Mustn’t this be the case, wanderer?

I can sense you are not satisfied, wanderer. Moreover, you are frustrated, aren’t you? I hope you don’t feel I’m being patronizing. It’s easy to lose the fundamentals when you’re drowning in a sea of complications, and I felt as though maybe you were looking for something more basic. I’ve got one last tarot that may suit your needs – take a gander. You know what they say – third time’s a charm! Let’s decode the reality here – seems like life is very competitive and chaotic. Mustn’t this be the case,wanderer? Weakness cannot possibly survive at all, and in fact, death and destruction may bring about great change – although, it is recognized, we are unsure of what is beyond the great beyond. After all, that time has not come yet. But you’re the confident sort, aren’t you wanderer – the kind who likes to advocate that which you do not know?

Hmm. I’m getting the feeling you’re not sold. You must be very clever. Most of my customers have already bought in by this point! I’ve been in the business a long time and I’ve seen all kinds. That’s okay, though. I don’t mind a hard sell. In fact I rather look forward to them – they’re such a rare treat! Eons last an awful long time, don’t you know? The tarot hat trick didn’t do the trick for you, but that’s okay traveler. I have more tricks up my sleeve. Just take a look at this here rune:

Now there’s a holistic perspective if ever I’ve heard of one! It’s the circle of life, traveler, can’t you see it? It explains so much more than those silly tarot cards – don’t look at me that way, traveler, I knew you wouldn’t want any of that fake stuff anyway – and doesn’t it just give you a certain sense of…certainty? Things are inevitable, but since you understand your fate and the mechanisms that drive it, you can take comfort. No sense in fighting against the circle of life – it will crush you with its omnipotence and the natural order of things will carry on in only the way nature can. The more things change the more they stay the same – mustn’t this be the case, traveler?

Still haven’t bought in, eh? You’re no mere traveler, are you? I didn’t mean disrespect. I deal with a lot of people and I don’t experience time the way you might think that I do…there I am rambling again. What I’m getting at, is, sometimes I have difficulty reading people and knowing how it is they really see things. I’m just trying to give you want you want, interloper – the reality that will jive most closely with your inner desires and secure you that happiness. Who was the jerk that guaranteed us the pursuit but not the reward, anyway? But boy, you’re a tough sell. Let’s see if the next rune is for you, interloper:

Pretty clever, huh! You probably don’t even need my assistance decoding this one and constructing reality. You’re awfully clever interloper, but just in case there’s somebody else listening in, let me try and spell it out for them a bit. No sense in hoarding the truth, right? Obviously there’s no such thing as a circle of life – that’s silly, it doesn’t take into account culture; you know, time and place. Still, though, things tend to follow patterns, even though exceptions exist, and maybe there’s a universal culture and maybe there isn’t, and maybe some things are immune to the patterns but most things aren’t so why bother considering those paradoxes? This is all very enlightening, as you well know, interloper. It explains so much, but the world’s awfully big and hard to change, isn’t it? Oh well. Pick and choose the culture that fits you – that’s the secret to success! Mustn’t this be the case, interloper?

You’re still here? I should apologize, friend; I’ve been seriously underestimating you! Like I said, I’m just trying to give you what you want, and most people just want it easy. You’re a tough customer, a hard sell, that’s for sure. Nothing wrong with that, nothing at all. You know, this is a real treat. I don’t often get to dig into my collection of glyphs but it looks like this one might speak to you. Wouldn’t you know it, I got a glyph for everybody, that’s far too many glyphs to be having since so very few actually want ‘em. In any case, take a look, friend, and tell me what you see:

Awfully confusing, isn’t it? That’s okay. Maybe you see what I can see; maybe you perceive what I perceive. After all, friend, perception is reality. Mustn’t that be the case? I could help you understand this better, in theory at least, but there’s another rule. Something about prophets in their own land – I can’t remember the rule exactly, but I know it means I can’t share all the secrets with you. I’m sorry friend. I really am!

But you’re still here? You haven’t bought in yet? You…you want the secrets anyway? Well, brother. They’re not really secrets – not at all. You already knew the biggest secret – the best things in life come for free, brother. Here, let me show you:

Simple, really, when you stop and think about it. By the way, I’ve got a special task for you. Could you find me a reckless youth? I have a wild quest for him. I’m looking for somebody with pointy ears in green garb, golden hair. Swordsmanship skills are necessary and if he takes crazy and mystical sounding advice well from strangers that’d be a huge plus. Do you know the sort of youth I’m looking for? Well, I guess he doesn’t have to be a youth, brother, so long as he is free to act in a time of need – I think I remember something about him being destined to dispel the darkness. Awful alliteration and rather ominous but that’s the way these things go sometimes.

I don’t know if I should ask it, but, mustn’t this be the case, brother?

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3 thoughts on “Preaching from the Peak: A Conceptual Parable for the Information Age

  1. Imported comments from web archive:

    Ivo Vos February 12, 2010 at 11:47
    I really liked this one, J. Durden. Maybe there’s another layer that can be added, the layer of ‘perceived choice’. Or the ‘what’s it gonna be boy ?” effect. It might also be described as in this excerpt :

    They talk about democracy and freedom all the time
    Them masters of the universe they really blow your mind
    A writer in the old days would never have foreseen
    The twisting of the words today on a scale we’ve never seen
    Science as a weapon, psyops is in place for you and me

    Billions of our taxes to keep our country free
    from independent reasoning and another way to see
    Your mind another marketplace to sell you their idea
    of what life’s all about today and what it’s to be free
    Choices as a luxury, their choices as the only way to be

    chorus :
    Instead hearing your opinion they trick you in their choice
    All they wanna hear from you is only your caged voice
    And what they call new order is only the remains
    of medieval practices deployed
    on a global scale

    From ‘Caged Voice’, album Blue Buterfly, Shoesize 50

    J. Durden February 12, 2010 at 12:05
    The best part of parables is that they are open to interpretation. I’ll be curious to see what everyone takes from this.

    AfOR February 12, 2010 at 14:17
    It is an interesting little paradox that those who see people as no more than robots are classified as having some form of severe mental illness… and yet….

    Do we see ourselves as completely insane, operating simply on chaos and purely random choices?

    Or do we see ourselves as determinate beings who make choices?

    If it is the latter, then what choices are they? Really?

    One cannot choose to be Bill Gates, so we are what we are today, and we got here based on the choices we made in the past (and the choices others made for us) and our future is more of the same.

    I have a saying, “You can’t know what you know.” which means that the employee who stole from the till cannot eradicate that self knowledge from their own mind, and then think and act exactly as they would have if someone else were the thief.

    So we start formulating rules for society and behaviour and before you know it we are habitually predicting each other’s behaviour and acting upon those predictions and sanctioning those who do something we did not predict for them, such as stealing from the till.

    Suddenly we are approaching the “all creatures are robots” ethos, while still trying to deny it, both for fear of being branded mentally ill, but also because of a desperate need to hang on to some sort of illusion of self-determination.

    The USA is a great example of this psychosis, you do not have to go very far to find a USAin who will admit to the believe that anyone who works hard enough can achieve anything they like, and of course the flipside of this coin is that if you have sweet fuck all, it is nobodies fault but your own…. social healthcare, fuck that…

    However, it is only illusory faulty thinking that claims that self-determination and robotic humans are mutually exclusive systems.

    You can build *INORDINATELY* complex and beautiful, vivacious, evolving, interactive systems from just a few simple fixed rules.

    The world of fractals is one such example.

    The CGAT coding limitations of DNA are another, everything from a butterfly to a human being and everything else to boot, from a code base limited to 4 basic blocks.

    Very very very simple neural networks are quite sufficient to control the most incredibly simple electro-mechanical devices, a dozen electronic “neurons” and ten bucks worth of electronic “junk” will build an insect analogue that walks exactly like an insect… with no software programming of any kind whatsoever.

    In the field of biology we all know about parasitism, and how parasites affect the biochemistry of the host in order to control the hosts behaviour, the classic example is the parasite that makes cat piss “interesting” to rodents, this parasite lives in cats, of course, and in rodents, of course, and in human beings too.

    So is being a “cat person” a matter of choice, and example of free will and self determination, or simply a case of a robotic rules based creature that just happens to be infected with a parasitic worm which is altering the base programming slightly.

    Scattered February 12, 2010 at 16:04
    The problem of free will/choice/self determination is through a confusion of two definitions.

    One is that of human behavior NOT being governed by absolute determinism/karma/physics/cause and effect/etc.

    The other is a social definition in which the lack of is a restriction of actions imposed by various means within the realm of human interaction. This idea is bound by whatever is the truth of the first.

    Arbitrary February 12, 2010 at 17:43
    The problem of free will/choice/self determination is through a confusion of two definitions.
    Actually, the problem of free will goes a lot deeper than that…

    Physics, on a quantum level, is not known to be deterministic; rather, the commonly accepted explanations of quantum mechanics make it probabilistic. Thus, even if you could reduce the problem of how a human arrives at a decision to movements of the underlying quantum system, you would not have a perfect predictor of human behavior; there would still be apparent randomness in the results (although the results might not be equally likely).

    Things that alter our brain chemistry influence our decisions, and have an effect on the outcome of our decision-process. But they do not have complete control over the outcome.

    This, of course, has still danced around the question of whether or not we have free will; I cannot answer the question of whether the emergent phenomenon we call consciousness actually controls the results of the randomness, or simply constructs justifications backwards in order to maintain the illusion of control. But an appeal to physics does not answer the question.

    Regarding the original post, an appeal to past human behaviors is not a guarantee that future human behaviors will match them; it is merely a tool to try to predict the aggregate result of the choices of the masses.

    J. Durden February 12, 2010 at 18:10
    In the information age, we have overcomplicated things. Abritrary’s post is evidence of this.

    You do not have free will if you believe that you are a slave.

    This is about as accurately as I can think to encode the message which represents the lesson I have learned for myself through deep introspection.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 18:11
    Of course we have free will. We are all a part of God. The only way for existence to be interesting was for God to give us all free will, and the only way for God to give us free will was to make us all from parts of him, to share his free will. In doing this, it was necessary for God to destroy himself, to disperse his essence, to shatter his perfection. Thats why the universe is on a journey driven by the “internal” forces of evolution through complex phases that move reality from chaos to order. We are all taking part in how we get back to the original state of a whole God. How we get there, and how long it takes, is largely up to us. Thats the free will part.

    Welmer-

    Did you get my request to publish an article on this sorta stuff through your contact tab? I’ve got the article written. I just need to do a final proof read for grammar and spelling, but its all written. Please contact me with a yes, no, or maybe. I believe you have my email on file from registering.

    BTW: J. Durden- Good stuff. I like the way your mind works. I agree with much of what you said.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 18:18
    “Thus, even if you could reduce the problem of how a human arrives at a decision to movements of the underlying quantum system, you would not have a perfect predictor of human behavior; there would still be apparent randomness in the results (although the results might not be equally likely).”

    Just as there is order in chaos, there is chaos in order.

    For example, can something be perfectly random? No. If you role a dice, will the number not be 1-6, not negative infinity through infinity. Can you write a computer program to randomly determine a number from negative infinity to infinity. No. It must have parameters. It must exist in order. Order and chaos or interlinked. Can something be perfectly orderly. No. Shit be always moving around at the quantum level. Those strings in string theory don’t just sit there. Think, “Yin and Yang and all that shit”, to quote Chuck Ross I believe.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 18:19
    Order and chaos “are” interlinked.

    J. Durden February 12, 2010 at 18:25
    Those who exercise attention to detail will have much to find in and around this parable.

    AfOR February 12, 2010 at 18:29
    Apparently none of you understand the meaning of “chaos” or “chaotic systems”

    “Chaos” is just something that is not “ordered”.

    Rolling a dice, flipping a coin, pouring a cup of coffee, are all examples of chaos and chaotic systems at work.

    Bullets in a feed belt or magazine are an ordered system, you can only get to one by progressing through the rest.

    Both chaotic and ordered systems both function on rigid sets of rules.

    The fourth bullet can never be a banana, and the flipped coin can never come up the 6 of diamonds.

    “Free will” and “self determination” are similarly limited and bounded, I cannot simple choose to be a albatross and bypass the TSA no fly lists.

    J. Durden February 12, 2010 at 18:39
    It is, however, quite easy to get stuck on one particular detail and lose sight of the big picture.

    That is the way of things, sometimes.

    coyote February 12, 2010 at 18:46
    This is hilarious. I love the tangram guy! Nice.

    Scattered February 12, 2010 at 18:51
    Including randomness at the quantum level to the model changes the way we define certain words, for instance determinism would intuitively imply that the future forms of the universe are determined, however cause/effect still holds true if you assert that the events due to randomness are a variable of cause in all (most?) other events, which is to say: determinism != cause/effect.

    This however doesn’t change the fact that a man is the sum of a set of causes random or otherwise.

    What do you mean by controlling the results of randomness?

    Do you mean how our brains deal with the it? I would guess that that the outcomes of this randomness come in the form random ideas/minor malfunctions that get filtered/selected into certain configurations which leads to the creation of substantial ideas which may or may not be useful and/or original. This could explain the source of human creativity.

    Free will in the divine/bible sense I think would imply that the source of our decision-process is independent of the universe which is logically absurd.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 18:55
    ““Free will” and “self determination” are similarly limited and bounded, I cannot simple choose to be a albatross and bypass the TSA no fly lists.”

    That was pretty much my point. Pure chaos and pure order do not exist. Even a belt fed machine gun will jam sometimes, etc.

    Scattered February 12, 2010 at 18:59
    And yes I apologize for my part in encouraging this discussion in detracting from the point/s of this article.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 19:04
    “Free will in the divine/bible sense I think would imply that the source of our decision-process is independent of the universe which is logically absurd.”

    Not independent but completely intergrated. In this sense, our free will is part of the free will of the universe. Every decision we make affects every other decision being made, and every other decision being made affects our decision. In this sense, free will is limited, or in other words shared, with the rest of reality (sorta like how as our freedom as US citizens isn’t anywhere near absolute). I guess this is basically a semantic argument. Basically, nothing is absolute, even free will. As discussed before about the limits of chaos and order, you can think of free will as existing in a decision making tree. When paths diverge, we can choose which divergent path, but we are still limited in our selection.

    Scattered February 12, 2010 at 19:06
    Jabber

    I think I need you to define your definition of free will for me.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 19:07
    I’m sorry, what was the point of the original article again?

    Something along the lines of “Feminism sucks and it must be destroyed.”

    Back to free will.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 19:08
    Free will: The ability to choose.

    J. Durden February 12, 2010 at 19:08
    Coyote deserves recognition for being the first person to pick up on the humor that is present in the post. Whether or not this is an important detail, of course, is up for debate.

    Arbitrary February 12, 2010 at 19:08
    You do not have free will if you believe that you are a slave.
    This is about as accurately as I can think to encode the message which represents the lesson I have learned for myself through deep introspection.

    That doesn’t answer the question either; if you do not believe you are a slave, you still might not have free will.

    Of course we have free will.
    I agree, but I don’t think I have convincing evidence to prove it.

    For example, can something be perfectly random? No.
    Yes and no. The problem arises from what we mean by “random”. In information theory, this is understood as a repeatable event for which past observations do not enable you to predict future results with higher than expected probability. Quantum mechanics suggests that such phenomena exist.

    That said, as a practical matter, most sources of “random” data, such as rolling dice and flipping coins, are not really random; dice and coins are not evenly weighted, and so they do not produce random strings when used. There are methods to correct for this, but I doubt you want that level of detail.

    There is also a notion, in theoretical computer science, of pseudorandom data. This is data for which past observations enable only sufficiently small changes in the expected probability of future events (as versus the zero change allowed by random events). A decent chunk of thought has gone into the question of how to quickly and efficiently generate pseudorandom strings of data.

    This doesn’t really answer the practical thrust of your comment, though, which is that chaotic phenomena contain order and ordered phenomena contain chaos. I’d like to examine these two claims separately:

    1) There is order in chaos.

    It is possible to study what behaviors are and are not predictable for chaotic systems; more generally, there are indeed “orderly” results that you can conclude even about random systems.

    This, however, is often misused to claim that the chaos we started with really wasn’t all that chaotic–after all, it had this bit of order in it. This is not necessarily so; sometimes there are “orderly” results that are always true, and therefore knowing that they are true doesn’t help you predict anything about the state of what you started with. For example, someone I know was recently marvelling at the fact that, if you connect the midpoints of the four sides of a quadrilateral, you always get a parallelogram (this is true). They stated this fact as, “If you take a random quandrilateral, and connect the midpoints of the four sides, you get a parallelogram.” But you could just as easily state it the other way around: Suppose you have a quadrilateral, such that if you connect the midpoints of the four sides, you get a parallelogram. What does that tell you about what kind of quadrilateral you have? Answer: Nothing; all quadrilaterals are still possibilities.

    2) There is chaos in order.

    This appears to be so in the physical world, but there is little reason to think that this must necessarily be so. If you roll a die with no markings on any side, the answer is (essentially always, ignoring quantum phenomena) going to be zero. Similar, a two-headed coin always comes up heads.

    The argument that the underlying nature of physics implies a lack of free will is dependent upon the idea that the universe is perfectly orderly and determined, as one would expect under Newtonian mechanics, for example. This does not appear to be correct, but there is no necessary reason (that I know of) why it couldn’t possibly be.

    J. Durden February 12, 2010 at 19:10
    That doesn’t answer the question either; if you do not believe you are a slave, you still might not have free will.
    That is your perception. Therefore, it is your reality.

    J. Durden February 12, 2010 at 19:11
    I agree, but I don’t think I have convincing evidence to prove it.
    Because you are living in a confused and contradictory state where you do not think that you can prove that you have free will, even though you believe that you might have it to some degree, you are not living to your full potential. You may still be able to be happy, but I am here to suggest that there is a very easy way you could be happier.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 19:12
    What and how we choose is totally dependent on the universe around us, but in turn affects the universe around us.

    Just as there is no absolute chaos and no absolute order, there is no absolute free will and no absolute slavery. Everything is connected, and all “forces” exist in opposition to “counter forces”.

    Pure free will exists in opposition to pure limitations.

    Don’t worry, it barely makes sense to me, but it makes the most sense out of anything else I can come up with.

    J. Durden February 12, 2010 at 19:13
    What and how we choose is totally dependent on the universe around us, but in turn affects the universe around us.
    May I suggest this is an unnecessarily complicated way to perceive things? Why not simply say “what and how we choose affects the universe around us” or even better “what we choose creates the universe around us?”

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 19:23
    @J. Durden and Arbitrary-

    If this is just a bunch of mental masturbation, I think I’m about to cum.

    Well done.

    “If you roll a die with no markings on any side, the answer is (essentially always, ignoring quantum phenomena) going to be zero. Similar, a two-headed coin always comes up heads.”

    Ah, but what are the odds that someone will alter the die or coin, or that a “lightning ball” will appear and brush up against one in mid air and sear one side of it into a three or a tails.

    In Yin and Yang, one side is always dominant over the other. If the universe is moving from chaos to order, than order is dominant. It is easier then to create a psuedo-pure-orderly system than a psuedo-pure-chaotic system. It is still impossible. The faceless die will still role something other than a zero because it exists in a reality where the die is subject to change, ie. chaos, itself. Is this little more than fancy semantic rationalization? Isn’t pretty much everything?

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 19:24
    “May I suggest this is an unnecessarily complicated way to perceive things? Why not simply say “what and how we choose affects the universe around us” or even better “what we choose creates the universe around us?””

    But mine includes the important vice versa part. How the universe affects our choices.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 19:25
    Everything is interconnected, even opposites.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 19:25
    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 19:29
    “Everything is interconnected, even opposites.”

    They figured that out back when the yin and yang was thought up.

    “The history of Taoism stretches throughout Chinese history. Originating in prehistoric China, it has exerted a powerful influence over Chinese culture throughout the ages. Taoism evolved in response to changing times, its doctrine and associated practices revised and refined. “

    Arbitrary February 12, 2010 at 19:36
    “Chaos” is just something that is not “ordered”.
    A chaotic system is one in which, among other things, there is a sensitive dependence on initial conditions–that is, conditions that start close together tend to diverge from each other. Dice and coins are chaotic because they start in your hand in basically the same orientation, but wind up in wildly different orientations on the floor.

    A chaotic system could still be perfectly predictable if you knew, perfectly, the exact initial conditions; what renders chaotic systems (weather, for example, or the stock market) unpredictable is the fact that small errors in the measurement of initial conditions will tend to grow into large errors in predicted results.

    This is not to be confused with randomness, where even if you knew precisely what the initial conditions were, you would not be able to predict the results.

    What do you mean by controlling the results of randomness?
    If you do not subscribe to the hidden variables interpretation of quantum mechanics (rejected by most physicists), then you could start with two identical physical systems, give them identical input, and get differing results. In the case of people, the question arises: is the differing result a function of “choice”, or is it random?

    There is room for AFOR’s objection here; one who believes in the hidden variables interpretation will assert that our inability to precisely measure systems is an uncertainty in initial condition, and differences in result from physical systems that appeared the same when measured, given inputs that appeared the same when measured, are the result of chaos and not randomness. The hidden variables interpretation runs into other problems (the loss of locality of interaction), which has resulted in its falling out of favor, however, in favor of interpretations that maintain locality of interaction and allow for quantum entanglement.

    Free will in the divine/bible sense I think would imply that the source of our decision-process is independent of the universe which is logically absurd.
    If our decision process is affected by apparently random quantum fluctuations, there is room for a “soul” that directs those fluctuations…whether or not you want to believe in one is up to you.

    Arbitrary February 12, 2010 at 19:51
    That is your perception. Therefore, it is your reality.
    No, it is the assertion that the inverse of a statement is not logically equivalent to the statement. My perception was your original assertion; what that is or is not logically equivalent to is a matter independent of my perception.

    Because you are living in a confused and contradictory state where you do not think that you can prove that you have free will, even though you believe that you might have it to some degree, you are not living to your full potential.
    I don’t think I can prove that I exist (I am familiar with Descartes’ argument…I will accept that I can prove that I exist just as soon as I can prove that I think). I fully believe that I exist. I fully believe that I have free will. I act in accordance with those beliefs. I just don’t think I can prove that they are warranted–but I can say that, as a predictive matter, my best possible behaviors are to act as if they were true beliefs.

    Ah, but what are the odds that someone will alter the die or coin, or that a “lightning ball” will appear and brush up against one in mid air and sear one side of it into a three or a tails.
    Sufficiently rigorously defined, you could actually estimate the probabilities of these events, within quantum mechanics.

    Just as there is no absolute chaos and no absolute order
    This makes “chaos” and “order” sound like measurable phenomena; chaos is a kind of system, ordering is a kind of binary relation, and the colloquial understanding of both of them should not be understood as a measurable quantity within the colloquial notions of its measurement (although entropy is a good measure of disorder, sort-of).

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 20:07
    Ah, entropy, the opposite of evolution. And the circle comes full circle.

    Can we cuddle now. After I cognitively orgasm, I like to cuddle afterwards.

    This has been fun.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 20:08
    The problem, as it appears to me Arbitrary and everyone else, is that language has not evolved enough to keep up with how smart we are.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 20:12
    If we could only speak in binary code.

    001010101101010000101110101010101001010

    Get it? Trust me, its hilarious. 00100! Classic!

    Scattered February 12, 2010 at 20:15
    If our decision process is affected by apparently random quantum fluctuations, there is room for a “soul” that directs those fluctuations…whether or not you want to believe in one is up to you.
    Perhaps, though I would replace “soul” with “god” in that I don’t see how these fluctuations could be defined as my own will.

    Scattered February 12, 2010 at 20:23
    Unless you say that my consciousness actually exists outside the universe and that my will manifests itself through these random fluctuations.

    Then we would need to explain how my consciousness receives information from the universe.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 20:40
    “Perhaps, though I would replace “soul” with “god” in that I don’t see how these fluctuations could be defined as my own will.”

    Exactly. Your “soul” is a part of God, and God logically has free will, so that part of him that he shares with us, that we are made of, is what gives us free will. Whenever you make a decision, it is made by the little peace of God that we are made up of. In this sense, we are all a part of God. That is how we “know” things, but sense we are not the whole God, we cannot know everything. In fact, we are, individually, such a small part of God, that we know very little in the grand scheme of things. We must think of ourselves as little peaces of God. This even sounds silly to me, but it’s how I see it.

    Arbitrary February 12, 2010 at 20:43
    Then we would need to explain how my consciousness receives information from the universe.
    The general idea is that the inputs reaching your brain effect the state of your “soul” by altering and discharging the neurons there; if your “soul” can alter the results of wavefunction collapse in your brain, it may also perceive brain state.

    A valid criticism of this explanation is that the soul is not a necessary component of the picture; inputs arrive at your brain, altering it chemically, altering the probabilities of any given neuron firing. The universe (or God) determines, at random, how the wavefunctions will collapse, in aggregate, resulting in some particular final resultant behavior. That there is room for a soul in this explanation does not guarantee that one exists; wavefunction collapse, however, is the only place that non-determinism ever enters into the picture–there certainly is room for the soul nowhere else.

    J@bberw0cky February 12, 2010 at 20:48
    Of course, a chair is a part of God also, but a part not as far along on the evolutionary spectrum. We are all just star dust after all. One day that chair might detereorate into dirt, grow into grass, and become part of a cow, and then that cow will be eaten and become part of a person. I digress.

    Demonspawn February 12, 2010 at 23:35
    I’ve found that the more I understand human behavior, the less I believe in free will.

    Once you understand, you can predict.

    Once you can predict, you can control.

    As I understood more, I predicted that we are controlled by our past experiences 😉

    At the same time, I do see the great illusion of free will. I don’t see how a sentient (self-aware) being can exist without the illusion of free will. How can one make a “choice” without being free to make a choice?

    Yes, we do make choices. But, in the end, the choices we make were predetermined by our past and our current state.

    I guess that would put me on the “hidden variables” side of things. When I started understanding human behavior, many variables were unknown to me and the results seemed entirely random. As I discovered more variables, there was more order to the results I saw. I still experience outliers, but I now chock that up to an unknown variable rather than a random choice.

    J. Durden February 13, 2010 at 02:37
    I’ve found that the more I understand human behavior, the less I believe in free will.
    The more that you understand human behavior in general, the less you believe in free will in general?

    Or the more that you understand human behavior in particular, the less you believe in free will in particular?

    There are differences, and for individuals, the differences of these implications could be paramount.

    J@bberw0cky February 13, 2010 at 04:40
    @J Durden-

    Hey there. I’ve read through the article a couple more times now (I’m at home. I have to read and write fast at work, so I miss stuff a lot, and sometimes that makes me look stupid. I would care more, but I don’t, because I’m awesome, and thanks to game, I have an irrational sense of confidence.) and with that said, I believe I overlooked something. Normally, I love puzzles, (In fact, now that I’ve said that, I’m reminded of one I came up with that I’d like to post one day.) and I believe I caught a few layers of meaning in your article, but now I doubt that I caught the full thrust of the humor or every layer of meaning. I’m afraid that math and geometry are a very weak area for me. Are they important in decoding the later “tarot” cards? Time to drop some hints for me. What exactly were you getting at, besides the cycles of existence, perceptions of reality, Zelda, and the tri-force. I can’t remember what the tri-force was made of either, and I’m too tired to google it. So what is the big joke. That if we find happiness in video games, that reality is just as valid as any other? Am I warm?

    J@bberw0cky February 13, 2010 at 04:43
    BTW: You have too much free time on your hands. That is a great catalyst for creativity. I’m pro-laziness. Working hard is way overrated. What people call lazy, I see as efficient.

    J@bberw0cky February 13, 2010 at 05:15
    Mother Fucker. I was all the way upstairs, going to sleep, and bang, it hit me!

    Your saying that the original, 2D, more linear Zeldas were superior to the new 3D, complex storyline Zeldas!

    Okay, for real, thats as far as I can take your mind fuck, I mean thought experiment. Either its about new versus old computer games, or your an agent of Skynet sent to distract us while the mother-program deciphers our nuclear launch codes. Which is it? By the way, in my mind, the Terminator movies are a lead up to the Matrix movies. It just makes sense.

    J. Durden February 13, 2010 at 09:10
    Your saying that the original, 2D, more linear Zeldas were superior to the new 3D, complex storyline Zeldas!
    Now that you mention it, I agree. Wasn’t intended but just goes to show you that /0 has a lot to teach.

    J. Durden February 13, 2010 at 09:11
    I’ll leave more hints as time allows; I’m very busy actually doing something useful with my ability to /0. Sorry. I’ll spread the love when I can.

    J. Durden February 13, 2010 at 12:02
    BTW: You have too much free time on your hands. That is a great catalyst for creativity. I’m pro-laziness. Working hard is way overrated. What people call lazy, I see as efficient.
    You may be closer to the “truth” here than you think. Keep trying.

    J. Durden February 13, 2010 at 12:06
    BTW: You have too much free time on your hands. That is a great catalyst for creativity. I’m pro-laziness. Working hard is way overrated. What people call lazy, I see as efficient.
    You may be closer to the “truth” here than you think. Keep trying.

    zel February 13, 2010 at 20:52
    I am.

    Mogkai February 14, 2010 at 11:02
    Realization, through introspection, of a “true” system of belief, no?

    Society posits the question: Are some systems more “true” than others? Or is it really all subjective? I’m on the right track, no?

    J. Durden February 14, 2010 at 13:58
    Mogaki –

    I would say it sounds that you are on the right track. I would also say that you know you feel the same way that I do when the statement “ultimately the answer is up to you” no longer feels trite and in fact perfectly describes the above parable.

    J. Durden February 14, 2010 at 13:58
    If you do feel the same way that I do, check this out.

    Mogkai February 14, 2010 at 21:44
    I find it very interesting that you’ve stumbled upon what seems to be a mathematical proof of synergy, which makes me feel like a giant burden has been lifted off of my shoulders… I’ve thought this way about things for a while but I always felt somewhat guilty, as I never had a provable reason of why I should believe the way I do other than that it felt more ‘right’ than anything I’ve really contemplated upon before.

    I’m sure you and I think of things in similar ways, albeit I would be in a ‘Buddhist’ grouping, if you’d like to stick me in a category.

    JD, have you read Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea? The dividing by zero idea is very similar to the ideas presented in that book about reality, I think.

    Edrick February 15, 2010 at 21:23
    It is an interesting perspective on the cyclic nature of human civilization, and I believe that it has much to do with the nature of intelligence versus breeding behaviors.

    I’ll let my man Joe Rogan explain this one…

    -Edrick

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