Delusion here, observation there

A delusion is a belief held with conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary. Yes, but what is a “belief”, and what is the “evidence” and who holds it? Moreover, who is “superior”? Well, of course, the holder of superior wisdom.

Thus “delusion” is an imminently relative term.

Sometimes, it can be profitable to entertain a delusion, points out a professional philosopher in Scientia Salon in “The upside of delusional beliefs”. Just as many a psychoactive drug can be beneficial to avoid pain.

To a non-theist, all theists are delusional. And their madness is far from being always innocuous.

Viewed As A "Jew", Freud Had To Flee His Native Austria

Viewed As A “Jew”, Freud Had To Flee His Native Austria

What’s a “belief”? First of all, it’s a conclusion, an abstraction. Sincere Muslims of the Wahhabist cult decided the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sunna are real.

Someone who is not a Muslim, reading an Hadith saying that the “Messenger of God” ordered to kill all Muslims who were viewed as having abandoned Islam, will feel that the Muslims are gravely deluded.

Deluded about what?

Deluded about the whole thing. Deluded about the existence of the “Messenger of God” as really a messenger of god, and a messenger of a real god, deluded to believe really Muhammad said this, and deluded that this so-called “Messenger of God” still should be admired, followed, enacted, etc.

Tied to any delusion are entire systems of thought and moods. Including a universe of “observations”.

Once people have decided something is real, it becomes real enough. At least for them. If it has become real for them, it’s not a delusion anymore. As far as they are concerned.

Many people with cancer entertaining the delusion that they have been cured, although they are dying from it, have made the decision, at the deepest levels of their minds, to believe that they are doing well. So does the antelope devoured by the predator. What choice do they have? Making themselves even more unhappy by giving up all hope?

“Delusionem” means a “deceiving”. Sometimes we have interest to deceive ourselves. But then the question arises whether the interest is short, medium, or long term. Or if it profits one’s parents, friends, tribe, species, or highest valued principles.

American humor tends to be delusional: under the guise of playing around (ludere), it plays down (“de”), the dignity of the human spirit. That’s why it tends to be self-deprecatory.

What would be the interest of that delusion?

To please those who fear the honor of the human spirit, the plutocrats…

Self-imposed delusion is a belief that, though initially known to be false, or unlikely, has been surrendered to and accepted by the whole mind as a truth; illusion is an impression that, though false, is entertained provisionally on the recommendation of the senses or the imagination, but awaits full acceptance and may not influence action.

Delusions can hide in moods. In the USA, height is more important than in Europe.

The Fed website gave the physical height of its chair, Janet Yellen. Now that it’s clear that Yellen is not a towering figure, it will be felt that her ideas are coming short…

American CEOs, and other leaders are, in general taller (in absolute and relative terms) than their European peers. The best way to measure ideas?

This shows a delusion can show up as a mood, mostly: the citizens of the USA, at least the upper class, is more impressed by sheer physical size (reflecting a lack of other factors to evaluate greatness?)

Have human minds been designed?

Conventional Delusion: No. Evolution proceeds haphazardly.

Advanced Wisdom: Yes. Even so-called “Darwinism” selects a selection process explaining evolution is adaptable. “Signare” means to choose, mark, appoint. Clearly, at the very least “natural selection” (and especially of the quantum kind, soon to become evident) is such a choosing.

And what is selected by natural selection? A species survival. Species are designed to survive.

Survival can be short term, and psychological, in term of a dying patient, or being measured in terms of hundreds of millions of years.

Blaise Pascal wrote:’Vérité en deçà des Pyrénées, erreur au delà’ (Truth becomes falsehood when crossing a mountain range). Delusion here, observation there, goes even further.

Plato in his cave, complained all was illusion. However, the entire evolution of the human species is about acquainting ourselves with truth, abhorring illusions, embracing delusions only as drugs, psychological extensions of massive endorphin release (“useful” when devoured… Useful to the one devouring, of course!)

Evolution is a complicated thing, delusion, simple.

Patrice Ayme’


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23 Responses to “Delusion here, observation there”

  1. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to NYT as comment to an article on Obama’s measures against Islamist extremism.]

    As it is written down, and interpreted, Wahhabist Islam is an excellent vehicle for justified anger for uncultured youth.

    To correct the problem, mild, progressive interpretations of Islam (say Sufi) have to be pushed forward, Wahhabist Islam has to be exposed and condemned, and the causes of justified anger have to be eradicated.

    Moreover culture, especially the teaching of correct and full history, and education, the acquisition of employable added-value skills, have to be implemented in schools.

    Thus, countering lure of “extremism” is a vast enterprise, a complete re-founding of society. Short cuts will be ineffective, and will bring only fascism.

    • gmax Says:

      Obama just said Islam has been “PERVERTED”. Is he an Imam, or what? There is no God but God, and Obama is his Messenger?

  2. Duviel Rodriguez Says:

    Not sure where you get the whole idea of Height being that important in US. What study do you quote? Or are you just imagining this? I have lived in US my whole life from my perspective you are wrong. Than again im 6 feet tall myself. If I were 5 “6” I might see it different.

    The question is knowledge. How and why do we know.

    Most of what we say is knowledge is just a conclusion based on a study of facts someone else asserted as facts. As well as based on many of our own biases.

    Interests and politics (religion has traditionally been the main tool. but, now mass media/information is becoming it) have for thousands of years influenced what info or facts societies are made aware of and therfore influenced biases and conclusions/beleifs.

    Most of knowledge is a farse.

    All we can do is try to be open-minded, use common sense and attempt some systematisation in analysing what we are told to be true or false.

    We trully don’t even know if we really exist. Are we in a”Matrix” scenario? are we just a very sophisticated software program? Is time real? is death real? Is the universe just some advanced science project? We don’t know anything!

    But, since human existance relies on being able to trust your environment we all at some point must give up our questioning and pretend that the chair you sit in and that apple you are eating, and the bullet heading your way are real.

    Regardless if its not real, it sure feels real. In my reality, that apple tastes pretty good and that bullet wound does burn.

    Questioning is good to a point. But, at some point you just have to bring it back to the basics.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      I am quoting nothing, it’s a well known fact, and an objective one: American CEOs are much taller than European CEOs. Well known facts can be easily found by making Internet searches (say when Chris accused me to be “anti-German” because of facts I used he thought were false, although they could be found with Internet searches, as Dominique Deux did).

      The “Matrix” thing is a popular obsession with some physicists these days (there was silly essay on that by a believer in Scientia Salon recently). In a way, it’s a very old story familiar to theologians.

      Indeed, basics are important. That’s why I have always done dangerous sports, at the risk of getting banged up, drowned, devoured, dropped off, and avalanched a bit…

  3. cortu01 Says:

    Design (source: Merriam-Webster)

    : to plan and make decisions about (something that is being built or created) : to create the plans, drawings, etc., that show how (something) will be made

    : to plan and make (something) for a specific use or purpose

    : to think of (something, such as a plan) : to plan (something) in your mind


    I believe you are being delusional on what Design really means. If you wish to ascribe different than the accepted semantics to a signal, you should be providing your definition.

    Species are not designed to survive. There is no will or plan necessary for the process to unfold. In fact, the very process of evolution means species die out. (Not to mention that evolution as an idea is really just a simplification.)

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Cortu01: You apparently missed this passage of mine:
      ‘Even so-called “Darwinism” selects a selection process explaining evolution is adaptable. “Signare” means to choose, mark, appoint. Clearly, at the very least “natural selection” (and especially of the quantum kind, soon to become evident) is such a choosing.’

      The point is that “intelligent design” happens naturally. It is actually even the main idea behind making molecular based computers. Some primitive versions are already available, say the micro-assays that allow to recognize cancers or viruses in minutes.

      Species are designed to survive by natural selection. Whether they die out, or not, depends upon the definition of ‘species’. Some species certainly evolve (but others have not, for more than 400 million years). Quantum Physics has the ability to act teleologically, thus intelligently, as I have written many times on this site. I am involved in a $49 million project (grant proposal) to demonstrate this. Just read Merriam-Webster, 2115…

      • cortu01 Says:

        The difference lies in the attribution of intention. One should not confuse the useful properties of an emergent effect with the existence of an a-priori design (because if it wasn’t a-priori it would not be a design). I appreciate your contribution to science, but computational results do not make philosophy.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Cortu01: I guess it’s a matter of what one means by “signare”, and “sign” or “signal”. See the latest signal from space:

          If I speak of “seismic signal” it does not mean a little green man intended it.

          More deeply, the question is the difference between “intelligence”, as in Artificial Intelligence, and CONSCIOUSNESS.

          To say evolution is intelligent, or uses intelligent mechanisms, complete with design does not mean it’s conscious.

          Dominique Deux had a problem with my apparently loose use of “creation” and “creator”. I view BIOLOGICAL evolution as our creator. It’s basically a tautology at this point. It also is a torpedo launched at theists. Evolution is a god, a creator, we can experiment on.

          All and any deep scientific revolution is born from philosophy unleashed.

          The Incompleteness theorems in logic, and Turing’s work are essentially philosophical. “Philosophy” is all over that place we call the human mind.

          • cortu01 Says:

            At this level we are playing semantics. That is why I requested your (re) definition of design. The word is too semantically loaded to simply mean emergent structure. I insist that planning requires conscious thought. That there can be “intelligent” structure in a system such that it exhibits certain useful qualities without an organizing will, a consciousness if you prefer, I can not disagree with; as long as we take note that these useful qualities are definable only from the perspective of a conscious observer (whether he is the planner or not).

            I suppose you are using the AI definition of planning? The main problem lies in the non-existence of a universal goal to plan for. In my humble opinion, you are anthropomorphising “nature”.

            In short, we must be careful when using everyday speech to explain scientific results. Language is too context dependent, and wrong conclusions are easily drawn.

            That being said, I don’t view consciousness as anything more than an emergent phenomenon in itself. Perhaps this disagreement is merely semantics. (But “semantics is everything”.) I have no doubt that you project will come up with interesting findings.

  4. Patrice Ayme Says:

    @ Cortu01: Anthropomorphizing nature or Naturalizing man? Human beings are part of, and emerged from, nature. They have each other’s form, being the same.

    • dominique deux Says:

      That Parthan arrow targeting Cortu sounds sharp but is blunt-tipped: man is part of nature, but the reverse is not true, so they are not the same. Beware of the lure of the soundbite!

      Anthropomorphizing various entities is not a mere semantic or rhetorical device, meant to make general discourse more palatable. It is a step towards making those entirely non-sentient entities valid interlocutors, then, when it fits a group’s plans, deities. “Nature plans” is no different from “Markets think”. As such, it has to be resisted – ie used sparingly and only with excellent cause – not indulged in.

      • dominique deux Says:

        (for non-French readers: “flèche du Parthe” = “parting shot”)

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          The Parthians trained to fire arrows backwards from their composite bows, as they “retreated”, a lethal technique Mongols would used for more than a millennium later… 😉

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Sound bites, me? ;-(… Ah, maybe I taught sound itself (part of physical nature), to bite on my behalf… Thus I have shaped nature into a watchdog, or even morphed it into something to attack miscreants with. My point exactly.

        As it is man is going beyond nature, making nature less natural than the nature He himself is now creating (this is an allusion to genetics with more than four base pairs, which is not sci-fi anymore…)

        The so-called “market” is still something else. Nowadays, it’s barely more than a conspiring association of criminals, with enormous political leverage. There is strictly nothing natural about it, beyond an assembly of hungry crocodiles trading bites at the speed of light.

    • cortu01 Says:

      To dominique deux’s comment I can only add what I require from theists: “Define ‘god’ and we can have a discussion.” Just replace ‘god’ with ‘nature’.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Nature, and evolution, exist, and Homo is its prophet.
        A definition is just words, a finite digital set.
        Nature is the Quantum, which is astoundingly more complex, beyond what we can imagine.

        • cortu01 Says:

          Without defining what you are talking about, you might as well speak in bubbles.

          • Patrice Ayme Says:

            The words I have been using, “digital”, “finite”, “set” are perfectly clear for someone with an undergraduate degree in math, physics and biology.

            Quantum Mechanics depends, for its computations, upon a continuum (cardinal of the real line). However logic depends upon COUNTABLE computations.

            When I dive deep in the sea, I make bubbles, but I don’t speak to the fishes, as I am sure that, however clever, they did not study enough to understand me.

            • cortu01 Says:

              Excellent, you defined the word definition (sort of). You are still avoiding the main question: what do you define nature as? You make hard claims while speaking in abstracts. Not to even talk about your misguided irony. You clearly do not know what you are talking about. Again, you’re probably a great scientist (one might hope when you blatantly flaunt sums as if they were arguments), but you’re understanding of how to make an argument needs work. I’m simply happy I figured you out before wasting more time on your blog.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              Excellence is my calling. Let’s go back to basics:
              Figuring out what nature is, is the main mission of science.

              Once one has figured out nature, one is god, and I must admit I am not quite there yet.

              For example, nobody under-stands Quantum Physics (dixit Feynman and Einstein, among others). The most fundamental aim of fundamental science is to try to progress in that definition.

              A simpler example: establishing an electromagnetic definition of MASS. This is necessary, and in progress, as the one kilogram mass in Sevres, France, is fluctuating, for causes unknown.

              Although we don’t know what nature is, clearly we know enough to not really know for sure what a sentence of yours such as:
              but you’re understanding of how to make an argument needs work
              Don’t waste time, indeed.
              English improve recommend me. (To speak like you!)
              Be “simply happy”, that fits you best.

  5. Paul Handover Says:

    Genuinely enjoying the dialogue between you, Patrice, and cortu01.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      ;-)! Thanks Paul. I guess I went on too long with the bubbles, and he got drowned in the science.

      BTW, very courageous posts on your site recently. One of the best ways to progress philosophically, is through self examination: that brings up new ideas that one carry all over afterwards… Lots of scientific progress has been about “episteme” or about finding out how we found out the thing we think we know, and tweaking that, thereafter…

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