Archive for the ‘Human Ethology’ Category

How Social Media Fosters Intellectual Fascism

February 4, 2017

Social media, as presently practiced, is without appropriate moral guidance: no philosopher has come and established what proper behavior ought to be (here I am, like Zorro!)  First, one should avoid alienation. Instead alienation is presently encouraged.

Social media, as presently practiced, encourages intellectual fascism, from lack of wisdom, education, poor mastery of the participants’ own emotional systems, lack of understanding of how one gets to superior knowledge, etc..

Such is the present state of affairs.

It needs to be rectified, otherwise nukes will fly. Can it be rectified?

29 Year Old Attacker Of The Louvres, Son Of A General. People Become Like This, Because they Have Not Been Taught Alternative Knowledge From The Hatred, Disguised As Coming From The Great Dog In The Sky...

29 Year Old Attacker Of The Louvres, Son Of An Egyptian General. People Become Like This, Because they Have Not Been Taught Alternative Knowledge From The Hatred, Disguised As Coming From The Great Dog In The Sky…

Yes. Studies such as the one in the Guardian have to be advertized, debated. “Twitter accounts really are echo chambers, study finds

As in ancient human cultures, users of the social media site interact most with those who share their political views, Demos report reveals

When it comes to politics and the internet, birds of a feather really do flock together, according to research confirming the existence of online echo chambers among the most politically engaged Twitter users.

A study of 2,000 Twitter users who publicly identified as either Labour, Tory, Ukip or SNP supporters has found they are far more likely to interact with others from the same party and to share articles from publications that match their views. Ukip supporters are also far more engaged with “alternative” media outlets, including Breitbart and Infowars, two US-based sites identified with the alt-right that have been regularly accused of publishing misleading or false stories.

The research was carried out by the thinktank Demos, which looked at the tweets sent between May and August last year by 2,000 people who have publicly stated their political allegiance on their profiles and who had at some point addressed a member of parliament in their tweets.

Report author Krasodomski-Jones said the behaviour was exacerbated by some media outlets using polarised views to attract audiences. “This attention economy, vying for clicks, eyeballs, pushes people into very confirmatory outlets. The rising popularity of this sort of alternative news is something that caters specifically to a specific group. It’s more than just news – it’s ideologically driven.

…Tom Stafford, a cognitive scientist at Sheffield University, said that those who had already shared their political allegiance in their Twitter profile could be even more likely to use the articles they shared to reinforce that identity… Stafford added: “Homophily, where we hang out with people like us, is an ancient human trait, resulting from our basic psychology. That applies to segmentation of media as well.”

It’s not just in the matter of politics: after I exposed letters of Marcus Aurelius, showing his burning hatred of Christians, a philosopher in New York, Massimo P. banned and blocked me angrily from diverse sites he commands. (Marcus Aurelius is the Muhammad of “stoics”.)

Another name for homophily (loving the same) is tribalism.

I have observed the social media madness as a personal victim of it in the last six months. I saw individuals who I long considered to be friends engage in public campaigns against me, calling me a lot of things they admitted (even then!) that I was not (such as a “racist troll”). One of them who has a significant management position in New York (plutocratic) media confided he had to do so, because his employers read his Twitter and Facebook accounts! “Nice” excuse. Meanwhile, thousands of people who don’t know me, nor what I write, were told I am a racist, and that’s all they know about me. Those thousands in the public who don’t know me were also informed I am anti-Muslim (I am anti-Literal Islam, and that’s just the opposite! I have at least a dozen very close “Muslim” friends… all of them, like me, critical about the Islamist ideology! Ironically, I share housing with them, especially on vacation. I was educated in “Muslim” countries…)

The result of the campaign of hatred against me was that several social media contacts I had in Academia “blocked” me (some were physicists, other philosophers). Thus my alternative version of reality, which would otherwise have added dimensions to their minds, has been annihilated. I am also now deprived of their views, which, however silly, I often found interesting.

I am not a racist. My family is multi-racial from three continents and Pacific islands. Many pseudo-leftists call people they don’t like “racist”, these days, using the word for whatever, including the weather.

So why is the insult “racist” hurled at me so often these days? Their excuse, beside plain rage? As I said above, some cynically some told me:’my job depends upon it!‘ My superiors, bemoaned the art director in New York, watch my social web activity, so I had to publicly hate you, renounce you, condemn you… I have been told this, and was supposed, me the hated one, to show empathy… to my haters. It sounds straight out of a passage in the Bible, the Last Supper…

Another cause of the rage is plain incomprehension. Not only they do not understand what I say, but when they start to understand a bit, the first thing they understand, is that there are very important things they did not even know existed. These huge gaps in understanding have to do with their (mostly self-imposed) tribalism and their closely related alienation (to reality in this case). Tribalism is an addiction, it probably excites the same rewarding circuits in the brain as other drugs.

If one wants to make war to people, the first step is to alienate them. This is French for cutting “Liens” (bounds, relationships).

The present mentality to insult, block, & not reflectively debate, contradictors on the Internet boosts & teaches alienation, violence, war.

Real damage is done when real debate is made impossible. Worse: alienation is presently viewed as glorious. The damage is not just to individuals, but to the collective. Tribalism makes the collective stupid, aggressive. 

Intellectual fascism consists in being led by only a few ideas. The best way is to tweet like a bird, exclusively among one’s flock.

The arch-typical leading fascist idea is that of Judeo-Christo-Islamist metaprinciple: “God is great, Allahu Akbar”. A friend of his being: “Dieu le veut, God wills it, Inch Allah”.Those are traditionally uttered, while committing the greatest infamies. They excuse them all.

The attacker of the Louvres in Paris tweeted less than 20 minutes before attack:…His last tweet posted before the attack, shows on the account a smiling El-Hamahmy leaning against a wall, a number of angry messages, including: ‘No negotiation, no compromise, no letting up, certainly no climb down, relentless war.’

His father is an Egyptian general. The enthusiastic Islamist rented a $2000/week apartment in the center of Paris. He went to the French Republic from Dubai, to attack the world’s most visited museum (justly so!) Hamahmy was following the most glorified mood of Muhammad, made explicit in the Qur’an, of hatred for the Republic and secular law. Yes, Islamism has to be eradicated, and it’s, first, a philosophical problem: one cannot put soldiers everywhere. All the more as such individuals are not just Islamists, or terrorists, they are TWITTERRORISTS.

Patrice Ayme’

No Many-Worlds Consciousness

September 2, 2016


Consciousness is not part of science… Yet. Science will be complete, when it is. Except, and that is a huge ‘except’, possibly, most people would have to admit, consciousness may already haunt the foundations of Quantum Physics: this is what the ‘Schrodinger Cat’ paradox is all about (the lives of cats depends upon what we think!). And, indeed, I believe consciousness has to do with the Quantum.

But first I have to dispose of those who claim that consciousness is a non-problem. The famous academic philosopher Dennett asserts that consciousness has to do with brain parallelism. My friend Karen Eilbeck, a ‘biomedical informatics’ professor: “I never was satisfied with [Dennett’s] explanation of consciousness”. Indeed. Consciousness and ‘multimodal parcellationare completely unrelated.

It is now considered that there are around 180 different areas of the cortex, per hemisphere, each doing different things (it used to be 83 different “areas”). 

The Brain Is An Orchestra With More Than 180 Players

The Brain Is An Orchestra With More Than 180 Players, Per Hemisphere

As the authors of  “A multi-modal parcellation of human cerebral cortex” (August 11, 2016), have it:

Understanding the amazingly complex human cerebral cortex requires a map (or parcellation) of its major subdivisions, known as cortical areas. Making an accurate areal map has been a century-old objective in neuroscience. Using multi-modal magnetic resonance images from the Human Connectome Project (HCP) and an objective semi-automated neuroanatomical approach, we delineated 180 areas per hemisphere bounded by sharp changes in cortical architecture, function, connectivity, and/or topography in a precisely aligned group average of 210 healthy young adults. We characterized 97 new areas and 83 areas previously reported using post-mortem microscopy or other specialized study-specific approaches. To enable automated delineation and identification of these areas in new HCP subjects and in future studies, we trained a machine-learning classifier…”

Thus the science of finding regions in the brain is more than a century old, it was not viewed as, nor has anything to do with trying to make a theory of consciousness . Yet, Dennett confuses brain activity here, there, and every way, with consciousness. 

Dennett observes that there are “various events of content-fixation occurring in various places at various times in the brain”. (everybody knows this: reach synapse, each neuron, even each axon and dendrite, etc.) The brain consists of a “bundle of semi-independent agencies“; when “content-fixation” takes place in one of these, its effects may propagate so that it leads to the utterance of sentences that make up the story in which the central character is one’s “self”.

A pretty useless ‘explanation’, dear Dennett, and not the problem of consciousness: consciousness is a feeling we all have, not just an utterance. If consciousness were an utterance, the speaking robots we are now interacting with, would be conscious. They are not. They are just algorithms. An algorithm does not have any more consciousness than a canal system. (Philosophers love to pontificate by calling what Dennett did, a ‘category error’; namely one confuses unrelated categories.)

Dennett followers claim that “subjectivity” can NEVER be made a subject to objective inquiry. That is a contradiction with the entire history of science, ever since the first Homo made the first fire.

What do I mean by this? ANY scientific theory started from a subjective experience. The first hominid who realized he could generate sparks with flints was subjectively engaged. So was the first who realized rubbing sticks could also generate incandescence. So the entire history of science, in the last three million years, has consisted, again and again and again, into turning subjectivity into objective inquiry.

When Dennett’s followers claim to have discovered that ‘subjectivity’ can never turn ‘objective’, they fail to understand that science rests precisely on this. In other words, they think as if they did not know that science is possible. Sorry to ask them to jump three million years.

Dennett looks a bit like Socrates with a big bushy beard, he is paid to utter statements viewed as philosophical, and has no doubt many other duties to attend to his enthusiastic following. So much thinking to produce, so little time, drowning in an ocean of fame. Can’t be easy.

How can fame and mental depth coincide? They are adverse to each other. It would be like getting money from oligarchs or financial monopolists, while claiming to want to help average people.

Is there really no connection whatsoever between the brain’s cortex working in plenty of little areas (brain parallelism) and consciousness? I did not say that. Dennett identifies consciousness and parallelism. That’s wrong. But that does not mean that consciousness did not evolve to make arbitrage between all these little areas, being the conductor of that otherwise discordant orchestra.

So Dennett confuses one evolutionary advantages of consciousness and the nature of consciousness. That nature probably has to do with the nature of the Quantum, and the difference between vegetal and animal. “Animal” comes from anima (soul in Latin). The soul is Quantum, this is what the Schrödinger(-Einstein) Cat thought experiment says.

Why the allusion to the “Many Worlds” Interpretation of Quantum Physics in the title? It is more than an allusion. The Many Worlds interpretation of the Quantum consists into sweeping the difficulty of how one goes from many possible outcomes to just a single one, under the rug of formalism. Instead of figuring out what is really going on, Many Worlders of physics say basically that everything and anything goes (all outcomes are ‘real’). One can say that Many World physicists shrug and answer the way Valley Girls do:”Whatever!“. Dennett does just the same. And this is not just a meta-analogy. If I am correct, and consciousness is intrinsically Quantum, the reason is exactly the same: evading a serious attempt at a deeper explanation… of the same phenomenon.

I don’t really expect celebrity physicists and celebrity philosophers to acknowledge that their cute little reasonings are shallow cope-outs, and popular, precisely because they are shallow and cute. However, the last nail in their coffins consist in pointing out that they offer an endearing, yet really terrible example of superficiality to the rest of debating society. Civilization rots by its head.

Patrice Ayme’  

Hard Wired? Not So fast!

March 3, 2016

Swallowing is self-taught. Anything else a bit more sophisticated is taught by others. We are cultural animals. Discuss.

Massimo Pigliucci, a (Roman!) biology PhD cum philosophy PhD teaching from an elevated chair in New York, objected to my tweeting aphorism above: “That is contradicted by a number of well established studies in developmental psychology, as well as by research on other primates.”

OK, Massimo, relax, I was a bit quick, thus simplistic in my formulation. Any discourse is incomplete, I was pointing at a direction. Indeed, I am a great advocate of ethology. Ethology, the experimental study of behavior, is an experimental field. That means its fundamental architecture is made of experiments.

Nicotinoid Insecticides Don't Kill Bees Directly, But Make Them Neurologically Dysfunctional Enough To Die From It

Nicotinoid Insecticides Don’t Kill Bees Directly, But Make Them Neurologically Dysfunctional Enough To Die From It

[All scientific fields are like gravity, they are experimentally driven. We basically know, experimentally speaking, not much more than what Newton knew already, as far as gravity is concerned (with the further twist of gravity being a field at speed c, like electromagnetism, hence, waves, etc.). A true revolution will happen in gravity the day we find something completely unexpected (the fact that gravity at this point is also equivalent to a space curvature theory is a triviality consecutive to Bernhard Riemann’s deep differential manifold theory). Some say we already found something unexpected, the phenomenon known as “Dark Matter”]

Ethology is also experiment driven. And our experiments are not as sophisticated as they soon will be. Differently from gravity, the progress in ethology is going to be quick, and very deep.

Ethology discovered already what writers of fables for children, and “primitive” “savages” hunting for survival, have long known: advanced animals care, have a sense of justice, are observant, loving, etc. More generally, advanced animals,, and others, not even very advanced are endowed with many other sophisticated behaviors we used to attribute to humans exclusively, etc.

Ethology has now gone further: ethologists also discovered that sophisticated, virtuous human-like “instincts” are not universal, even in a species which exhibit them: exploiters and freaks are not just a human phenomenon. In prides of lionesses, the same particular individuals tend to do all the work. Worse: lionesses have been observed having no maternal “””instinct”””. Other, experienced and caring lionesses had to intervene.

So animals have been observed to have altruistic behaviors, or behaviors making group life possible. (It’s quite a bit a chicken and egg situation: without apparently “hard wired” behavior, group life is impossible; the “group” could be just mother and child, such as a leopard and her kitten, or a mother orangutan and her child…)

However, ethology has not yet determined systematically how much is learned from others, and from the environment.

Hence the role of other animals, and how much is self taught is not clear at this point (insects such as wasps and bees “think” at least seven times faster than humans, so they can learn fast, and it looks like “instinct” to us!). In either case, when there is learning, there is no “hard wiring”. Or more exactly much of the “hard wiring” comes from the neurological life of the individual, as it does in any… creator. The creature being created by itself as creator of itself. God inside.

Learning is essential for survival of bees. Honey bees make repeat visits only if said plant provides enough reward. A single forager will make visits to that type of flower for most of the day, unless the plants stop producing nectar or weather gets adverse. Honey bees practice associative learning, and standard classical conditioning, which is the same in honey bees as it is in the vertebrates.

In other words, if even insects learn much more than a few tricks, as I have long suspected, we don’t know what “instincts” are really made of. This will have to be determined by further, much more refined ethological studies (differently from gravity, where it’s not clear what new experiments to do, and how to get results, although LIGO and VIRGO may well bring breakthroughs… In ethology, new experiments are just matter of financing, considering the progress of micro-electronics).

A famous example of what I am talking about is Lorentz’s geese (he got the Nobel for that). Young geese were imprinted on Konrad being their mom, and thereafter followed him everywhere, at some point of their development.

Why can’t that happen for all behaviors, and all species with advanced brains? In other words, could not just all our behaviors come, to a great extent, from some sort of imprinting?

Hey, one can self-imprint. When I want to eat more correctly, I starve myself a bit, and then eat the correct foods (say apples, carrots, tofu). Then I repeat a few times. Then I long for apples, carrots, tofu…

So south American monkeys have a sense of justice. But that does not mean that sense of justice is “hard-wired”. It may just have been taught. By others. Other monkeys. Or it may even be a sort of natural monkey science. Indeed natural interactions with others can be a teaching experience (or a succession of experiences, until a theory arises)…

But that does not mean that sense of justice is “hard wired”. It may just have been taught. By others. Other monkeys. Or it may even be a sort of natural monkey science. Indeed natural interactions with others can be a teaching experience (or a succession of experiences, until a theory arises)…

Standing up, and being able to run, is crucial to the survival of herbivores. A casual look at how a new born herbivore stands up shows that it learns to do so in a few minutes. Some moves are learned in a few seconds. However, today’s most sophisticated programmers could not write such a program. Nor does the brain of a small antelope contain a large computer loaded with such a software. Thus the truth: the antelope learns to stand up. That means it hard wires itself through the learning process. The environment in the most general sense imprints it with the appropriate circuitry.

Ethology will enlighten neurology, and conversely. Both fields are just getting started.

Patrice Ayme’

No Force, No Moral

February 27, 2016

Abstract: Why didn’t Obama outright jail the Crook of Apple Inc., on the ground of aiding and abetting terrorism? For the same reason as he became lupine Putin’s obsequious butler. Morality, the Roman mores, depends upon force always. However, masters’ servants are not reputed for the creative application of force.


The universe is created by force. Giant supernovae explode, generating the heavy elements which can then combine and create chemistry. Some want to say the universe is not about force, just harmony, love, etc. Yes, the universe, the human universe, is also about love and harmony. But fundamentally, it’s a balance of forces.

Unbalancing those forces lead to holocausts. Or, as we can now clearly see, even worse.

Did Obama Understand What His Primary Mission Was?

Did Obama Understand What His Primary Mission Was?

… Or is it that the job of the leaders in Washington is to let the world down, so that they can come on top? (And New York’s Daily News is not cynical enough.)

The universe, and our knowledge of it, is not just about force, violence, but also about chance, serendipity.

The new LIGO observatory of space deformations detected gravitational waves when it had just been turned on for its first engineering run, after being closed for improvements, during five long years. It was supposed to officially open four days later. The observed Black Holes have masses too large for usual astrophysics. Collapsing stars are supposed to give BH no more than 11 solar masses (long story), a third of what was observed here. This is an important new riddle emerging.

There is a brand new ceasefire in Syria. Putin rules, Obama cleans his shoes (some will say that’s what, for psychological reasons, this is to be expected: after all, Putin is a wilful white man, a killer, a conqueror, an invader, not a self-important, obsequious butler).

In 2013, The French Republic was ready to strike Assad. Assad had crossed the ‘red line’ of massive, blatant usage of nerve gas (in a suburb of Damas). Who had set the ‘red line’? The USA. The President of the USA had declared, solemnly, that if Assad used chemical weapons on its own people, the USA would take him out. Indeed, the war in Syria had started with peaceful protests. Assad reacted with gunfire, and then unleashing, and feeding (by buying its oil), the Islamist State. So Assad, son of his dictator father, was as culprit as possible.

The legitimacy of it all? 1) Human Rights. 2) Syria is within the European defense zone, so to speak (as demonstrated by the refugee problem). 3)Syria as a French Protectorate (given by the SDN, after the Turkish empire got ejected). 4) Further back, Syria was part of the “Oriental Part” of the Roman empire for seven centuries, until it was invaded by the Muslim Arab army which killed all males of weapon bearing age.

One can view the latter invasion as an UNJUST war, and such wars can be reversed.

The Roman Republic rightly made a big deal of JUST wars, which were basically defense wars: Rome was attacked, and then the aggressor was taken out. This is what happened, until the Third Punic war (in which Carthage was in the right, and the right-wing, plutocratic fanatics in the Senate, in the wrong). The next problem was Caesar’s Bellum Gallicum, where there again, Caesar’s adversaries pointed out that he, Caesar, had been the aggressor in Gaul (although the situation was complex, since the (misled) Helvetii had attacked, and Caesar initially intervened to help allies against the (future) Swiss. But then Caesar and his ten legions exceeded the mandate…

In any case, re-establishing democracy and republic in places which knew these under Rome is, arguably a just war.

Instead, Obama showed the defense of human rights by the USA was a lot of hot air. Putin invaded Ukraine 6 months later. Now he is making Syria into a client state. If he follows his model in Chechnya, he will kill up to 15% of the population, to install firmly his own Pluto.

(Said Pluto in Chechnya would have killed Boris Nemtsov, exactly a year ago to the day, with four bullets in the back, below the Kremlin; that’s convenient, as the Chechen Pluto is head of state, so hard to prosecute.)

Now that it is established the USA is hot air, nobody fears it. China is promptly installing radars on islands just off the Philippines, that it just created. Obama will punish the Chinese dictatorship by looking haughty until Mr. Xi and his goons surrender.

Where does Obama’s mentality comes from? Well, European pacifists are pretty much to be accused. The only European country defending Europe’s Lebensraum (vital space in German; a term Hitler used; that does not mean it never has any validity), is the French Republic, with troops on the ground in combat in Syria, Libya, Mali, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, CAR, etc. This sort of pacifism caused two extended world wars which ravaged Europe.

In World War One, the Netherlands, with its accomplice the USA, extended the war by three years by breaking the Franco-British embargo. In World War Two, Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium helped considerably in the defeat of France in 1940, and the subsequent French-Nazi ceasefire (which lasted, in practice, less than two years; yet, the evil was done, and dozens of millions died).

Obama’s lack of spine is not just about refusing to confront the Russian Caesar. Now the dark Pluto heading Apple refuses to release the communications of a mass murdering Islamist State terrorist. Why was that crook not charged with aiding and abetting mass murdering terrorism? Because such people are supposed to lead the world, and not be led by the world.

Were I president, I would arrest the crook, and apply the Patriot Act to him. He would then disappear from view. Then I would ask the same question to the second in command at Apple, five minutes later. Upon refusal, he would also be on his way to Guantanamo or somewhere. And so on down the line in the next hour, until one could crack the codes in the damn phone.

Instead we have the sorry spectacle that Apple makes the laws. Just like Apple gets its profits, hundreds of billions of them through the British Virgin Islands, to pay no tax whatsoever, Apple is supposed to keep on deciding what the law is.

It’s a matter of knowing what dominates: the law of We The People, with its equality of taxation, or the law of Them The Plutocrats, with the principle that Plutocrats decide what the law is.

Instead, civilization made laws in accordance with ethology, where all human beings are equal. Civilization arose from force, and so did the imposition of morality, which is not viable, without.

Don’t ask Obama, he is a lost little boy, in a land of big Plutos roaming, who are everything, whereas he is not much, and he needs to love them, should he want a job, next year.

The more sinister, and deeper level of analysis, of course, is that the USA’s plutocracy profited immensely from the weakening of European democracies in the Twentieth Century. Thus, cynics will argue, the morally lazy Obama is actually in the tradition of the most efficient American patriots: paying lip service to the morally correct, while implementing the dirtiest. But then, of course, most European leaders are accomplices to that… A curiosity explained by the nature of global plutocracy, and its Anglo-Saxon headquarters (including Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, etc.) Several European leaders were partners at Goldman Sachs, and, one would gather, are still partners with Goldman Sachs. That may explain why the leaders of Goldman Sachs were not arrested for cooking the books in Greece.

What is most interesting in all this, is that common people are starting to notice that something is askew: most Americans think the country is “heading in the wrong direction”…

Patrice Ayme’

Stoic Me Up!

February 10, 2016
Intelligence Without Patience is Just Somebody's Else Dinner

Intelligence Without Passion is Just Somebody’s Else Dinner

Plato observed that Socrates became so wise, probably because he had tried everything else before. Did he? The inventor of Cynicism, a bit later, went further by claiming there was a lot to learn from dogs, or, by viewing man as a dog. That sat well with Alexander the Great (the creator of cynicism and the creator of much mayhem met), as the latter wanted to show how philosophical he was.

Cynicism, in turn had an offspring, Stoicism. Astounding times: thinkers who knew each other, gave rise to great current of thought (it all broke down with the rule of Macedonian plutocracy, and its heirs, the “Hellenistic Kingdoms”). Stoicism, in turn appearing more than three centuries before Christianism, bequeathed a lot to that faith. In general philosophy, in the most general sense, a discourse, the logos, was made into one of the aspects of the Christian god (so Christianism did not subdue philosophy in a frontal assault, but used a sneaky method).

Massimo Pigliucci, a Roman-New-York biology cum philosophy tenured professor at CUNY runs a site “How To Be A Stoic”, and his latest was “Stoic spiritual exercises: I, from the Enchiridion”. I approve of all the suggestions made 23 centuries ago by the Stoics (and of the comments of Massimo). However I am a baboonist rather than just a cynic. Namely I think all we can learn from dogs, we can learn even better from baboons, and many things baboons do, dogs don’t have the brains for. Thus, in turn, I have higher requirements for Stoicism (as my Stoicism grew from Cynocephalism, rather than simple Cynicism, as original Stoicism did; the Latin name for baboons is “Cynocephalus”, dog-head).


[Some may argue that my view of Stoicism is far removed from the texts we have; but we have little of the original Greek texts; instead we have Roman texts focused on Ethics, written 4 to 5 centuries afterwards. Moreover, I view Socrates as (too much of) a Stoic (although he lived a century before the invention of official Stoicism. So, observing official Stoicism is poorly defined, what I generalize philosophically as “Stoicism” arises also from the common meaning of the word “Stoic”. Although I make a scathing critique of Roman Stoicism, I have no reservation against the original Stoics… But for their naivety.]

Original Stoics viewed the life full of “virtue” as the only free life. However, what they view as “virtuous”: was not necessarily so (as the top Stoic philosophers Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, who were both intimately involved with the Roman empire’s dirtiest business demonstrated magistrally, albeit very unwittingly!)

The original Stoics were naive, indeed. Although they understood the importance of practice, they did not understand that passion leads to practice. Only enough passion leads to enough practice.

This is precisely where Marcus Aurelius failed in the education of his imperial son, and thus led the empire to ruin: Marcus gave his son Commodus the empire, instead of giving him the passion for life, ambition, hunger, and thus smarts. By giving his son everything, Marcus removed from his son all passion. But man needs passion to think. So Commodus searched passion somewhere more outrageous. As Commodus had everything, Commodus assassinated everything, from the dignity of the imperial position, to the empire, to his sister, and others close to him. Because that was not passionate enough yet, emperor Commodus joined the gladiators in the circus.

It was all the fault of the naive view Marcus Aurelius had, that acting according to a simplistic view of “virtue” was enough of a virtue. As If “virtue” were easy to define.

OK, let’s cut off the chase, and do some real philosophy:

If one wants to climb a wall, it’s not enough to know where to put the foot. One has to do it just so, pushing into the rock to hold it there, but not so much that it does not provide support against gravity. How does one do this proficiently? Through practice. Plenty of practice. Practice is not just something which happens according to happenstance. One cannot wait for happenstance “stoically”. It’s something one looks for.

One may view the Will to Stoicism a Will to the Mastery of Moods, to optimize… To optimize what? Avoiding to be distraught? Avoiding others to be distraught? Or is it to optimize personal, or general happiness according to some measure? Which measure? And what if one is driven by various shades of sadomasochism?

Don’t laugh about sadomasochism: it’s found in any serious effort the capability for which has been honed by evolution, such as the hunt, or Sisyphus-like activities. A bit of masochism helps for the more dubious pleasure of the chase, or any serious struggle. Thus giving and receiving pain, breathing pain in and out, is ubiquitous in the depths of human ethology. This makes “goodness as minimizing evil” a rather complex, even baffling proposition, as it implies handling psychological, even physiological metastructures.

For example, Rome would have been better served, if Marcus Aurelius had treated his biological son, Commodus, with enough appropriate passion, that means, in this case, enough severity.

So there will be various notions of stoicism, according to what it is one tries to minimize, or maximize. (Or both: in advanced mathematical calculus, there is a method known as mini-max.)

In any case, the question remains: how does one train one’s moods actively (instead of waiting passively for the world to happen)? First one has to ponder: how do moods originate? They do not originate from the digital logic alone (the type of logic found in books on logic, the type one can put in a discourse).

There is another logic, as Blaise Pascal pointed out: “The heart has his reasons that reason does not have”. Well, so does the amygdala. The amygdala has its reasons that reason does not have.

The brain is full of sub-organs generating their own moods. Pascal did not know about the role the amygdala in fear (hence being distraught, among other things; distress was a passion the Stoics viewed as below them, erroneously enough!). And so it is all around the brain: diverse subsystems in the brain have their own reasons. And then, overall, fifty neurohormonal systems or so, can tweak parts of the brain, or the entire mind, this way, or that (pointing then in more than 50 dimensions, among other possibilities).

From this incredibly complex machinery, moods originate. Think of the solo climber, 10,000 feet above a glacier, standing on a square centimeter planted in brittle ice. Pure mastery of moods and logic, otherwise the climber’s life is over after 15 seconds of ultimate pain and terror.

Such a mastery is the fruit of years of training in logic and moods.

How does one acquire such mastery? Through passion. Training driven by passion, again and again and again. Training for solo climbing in the Himalayas, the Italian climber Reinhold Messner would run uphill for hours in heavy mountain boots. He concluded that training the mind was not enough, but he had to train his liver and kidneys (a conclusion Nietzsche would have agreed with, as he pointed out the importance of the gut, in his own solo climbs in Upper Engadin, nearby; yes, I climbed the same mountain).

Thus training for stoicism in full will imply the gymnastic of passion. It’s not enough not to get angry. One has to find oneself in situation where one should get angry, and then optimize, just as the climber’s mind learns by the practice of climbing.

“Discovering” in oneself self-restraint, self-control, and endurance is not enough. One has to train. Train under conditions one has chosen deliberately to learn to become much tougher. Staying calm under ultimate pressure is ultimate stoicism, and it is the attraction of extreme sports. Extreme sports are rendered possible, and acquire meaning, as research in ultimate stoicism (Messner drew a similar conclusion about his own life: it was a research into what a human could do).

If you want to think properly, think in full. If someone thinks in haste, don’t say they think badly, but in haste, and that thinking in haste is often bad.

And if you want to think properly, address in full why is it that you feel the way you do. Don’t just keep the feeling in check, analyze it. Ideas are great, but they live in the universe of moods. Passions educate the latter, and those in turn come from engaging the universe in full. Stoicism has to be understood dynamically. In particular, as a passionate engagement with the world, because only then is dynamics as fulfilling as it can be.

Patrice Ayme’








I Feel, Therefore I Think

June 17, 2015

It has been discovered recently that bilingualism helped with setting up a theory of mind in children, and also that physical exercise helps the brain.

It’s not surprising: in both cases, the brain is forced to exercise more. In a way, the brain is asked to do something, a particular task belong to a new category of tasks, and, when tested about that category of tasks, test higher than if it had never engaged in these tasks.

Exercise forces much of the brain to get active, and at a sufficient performance level (otherwise one crashes).

An Aspect Of My Personal Alps, Where I Frequently Run

An Aspect Of My Personal Alps, Where I Frequently Run

Bilingualism forces to realize that the logos depends upon generalized semantics, that is what one means by a particular word, and which emotion a particular concept is supposed to connect two. Having two versions of semantics and truth, forces one to practice arbitrage, hence higher mental functions. Maybe the Jews of Central and Western Europe, were so smart because they learned both the local language and Yiddish. Similarly for children of upper classes learning Greek and Latin on top of their language (Caesar learned Greek before Latin).

Are there other activities which force our minds to expand?

Facing lions and killing mammoths comes to mind. Neanderthals did this, and their brains were significantly larger than those of Homo Sapiens Sapiens. (Racist Homo SS having been trying to insult Neanderthals about this, ever since the first one was identified in 1856 as a “ricketty Cossack“).

More generally I favor the racist explanation that, living in much harder circumstances, Neanderthals were actually smarter, and their domestication of wolves proves it.

Confronting bears with bare hands, is an interesting activity. Bears hate stones, as they are familiar with the fact stones are dangerous, and when stones start flying, that’s strong magic which gives them an enticing excuse to retreat.)

Short of confronting bears with bare hands, what can we do? To improve mental performance?

What should we do?

Well, go to nature. Real nature, complete with wasps (another big black flying insect trying to sting me since my wasps adventure, but got tangled in my hairdo several times, instead; amusingly it was less than 1,000 feet from where I got attacked by wasps, but this time on a standard fire road, which allowed me to escape more readily; I am going to ned up believing in genies like the Muslim god, if they keep coming at me in the same place…).

Real nature activates, I believe, the proper neurohormones.

Making love makes the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richard happy, because it’s a strong passion.

However nature, wild, savage nature, provides with even stronger passions. A sex maniac such as the famous navigator Olivier de Kersauzon, admits that, when he sails around the world, he thinks about sex not once for one second, being too worried by survival, or crushed with fatigue. John Muir climbed a tall conifer during a storm in the Sierra, to appreciate the passions nature provides with, even more.

Nature feels beautiful: it evokes in us the neurohormonal states we call beauty. How are we going to experience beauty otherwise? Love? Yes, sometimes, somewhat, somehow, love is beautiful. But love is tied either to family, children, or where they all come from, the desire to unite with some other(s). It’s a bit too contingent upon others.

But give a human a desert, with grand vistas: even with no one else around, beauty will be had, aplenty.

Appreciating the beauty of the universe, its cosmicity, is related, in humans, no doubt, to many deep emotions we, humans, are made to leverage, to use our minds to their full capabilities. Not just scanning for prey, water, or enemies. But also contemplating what we humans created, because we are stewards of the Earth. We are of this world (that’s what “cosmic, kosmikos” means, in Greek). This world we created (as the Earth has become a vast human garden, complete with totally modified ecology, from pole to pole).

The Beatles insisted: All we need is love!

Well, sometimes we can’t get love, just from the circumstances. Where is love, walking alone under the starry sky, surrounded by darkness? If you are on a barren island, where is love going to come from?

Well, even in the desert, there is always the beauty of nature, love for the beauty of nature, of which love for other human beings is a particular case. Love for nature is not just a faithful companion, it’s a teacher of love and hope.

I think therefore I am, said the other one. But to think better, thus to be better, we have enjoy more the teacher no one can eschew, nature itself. And all the emotions, all the neurohormones, all the mind it can endow us with.

Go to the woods, or the woods will come to you.

Making fun of “I think, therefore I am” dates back at least to Wittgenstein. However, my point is serious. Whereas robots can walk, robots do NOT have sensations. Worms do. So worms feel, and decide what to feel: they are unpredictable, as I pointed out in “Three Neurons, Free Will“.

I would suggest that consciousness is more basic than the impression of “thinking”. And that unpredictability is a symptom of consciousness. Yes, consciousness has a feel to it, and that varies… Hence the unpredictability, both of sentient beings, and of the thinking process itself (and the Quantum Computer will confirm that!)

Patrice Ayme’

Humans: Naturally Born Scientists

June 5, 2015

Philosophers, through the ages, have tried to distinguish man from beast. The soul was suggested as a possible distinction (that was an old Middle Age theory, later adopted by Descartes). Tool usage was proposed (Bergson). And then language was offered as characteristic of humans. But animals were found to have theories of mind, tools, and language. How is man going to feel proud and different?

What about science? Does the inbred ability to produce it characterize us? I think so.

What Is Science? It Is Not To Be Confused With Scientific Theories:

Science is the body of certain facts. Science is the body of facts which have been proven experimentally to be true.

Curiously, many people do not get this simple statement. Is it because primary school is not taught adequately?

We Have Been Scientists, All Along, Ever More

We Have Been Scientists, All Along, Ever More

Science is the body of certain facts. Science is the body of facts which have been proven experimentally to be true. How hard is it to understand this?

Newtonian Mechanics for example is science because, within its domain of application, all its predictions are, and have been proven to be, indeed, what is observed.

Same thing for classical thermodynamics: facts are predicted, and observed to be true, time and time again. Same thing for continental drift: it predicts that continents are moving, and they are observed to move, indeed. At the exact rate predicted.

Biological evolution, too, is science. It says species have evolved. This is indeed what is observed. Thus, evolution is science. It’s not just a theory. Biological science says even more: that species are still evolving, as observed.

And so on:

Science is the body of facts which have been proven time and time again, to be indeed, occurring.

Then there are so-called “scientific” theories.

Scientific Theories Are Not Science, But, First, Theories:

Theory means: a point of view. Theories are not just facts anymore, but a way to organize them according to a perspective. That calls onto pieces of logic which are not proven. A “scientific” theory can be made of a mumbo-jumbo of facts, and completely unproven, even outrageous hypotheses.

Evolution is science. But scientific theories of how this evolution exactly happens are debatable, and debated. They are not sure. They are just theories. (Is evolution just from “natural selection”, haphazardly, or is there more, such that intelligent steering by Quantum epigenetics, as I believe?)

Most Quantum mechanics is science: it’s a set of rules, a logos, which has been checked, time and time again. However, as soon as one steps a bit away from it, it becomes uncertain (for example the Many Interacting World, MIW, a theory is handy, but it assumes that particles are points; that latter point is not a proven, certain fact).

String Theory, Supersymmetry, Multiverse, for example, are theories which include some “scientific” or “mathematical” facts. But they cannot even be checked, let alone capable of making predictions which are observed.

So those “scientific theories” are not “science”. They make a body of knowledge of some sort, like a game. But they are not allowing to make predictions observed in nature.



There are so-called “demarcation problems“, always. It happens within science: Newtonian Mechanics makes superbly exact predictions about where space probes go as engineers use planets as slings to launch them further. However, if one wants to find out about GPS drift, one has to use the more general version of gravitation of Einstein (the latter reduces exactly to Newtonian Mechanics inside the solar system; so the theory changes from Newton, for rockets, to General Relativity (GR), for GPS).

A more subtle demarcation is found, within the body of any given science. For example, part of Einstein theory of gravitation is science, as it predicts exactly what is exactly observed (say with the Geo Positioning System). However, the same set of ideas when applied to, say, Black Holes, comes short: it runs out of enough ideas to make exact predictions, runs out of experiments to be checked, and observed facts.

Thus the theory of gravitation, GR, is science (the closest one stays to Newton), and also a hoped-for scientific theory (but not as disconnected from reality as String Theory, Susy, Multiverse, etc.). However, GR, as a general scientific theory, has disappointed: the unified theory which Einstein tried to develop did not work. (Instead it morphed into something else the general fiber space theory with Ehresman connections, known as Gauge Theory, also know as Quantum Field Theory, etc.)


Science is what we know for sure:

How do we know that a logic is true, for sure? By conducting experiments.

By that token, archery was a science (launched just right, an arrow goes where it’s supposed to). Archery later blossomed into gunnery, ballistics, Newtonian Mechanics. Nowadays we would not consider archery as a science, but it’s among the simplest cases of dynamics.

For millions of years, our ancestors have used plants to help with their health. (Ethology has shown many animals do this, not just upper primates.) At this point, around 60% of our medical drugs come from plants.

The European iceman was found carrying general purpose antibiotics. Not by accident. He died more than 5,000 years ago.

And so on. Science is what is sure. We have been sure for a long, a very long time. If we were not so sure, we could not do much.

An artisan making a work perfectly is a scientist, in the particular domain in which this artisan excels. A prehistoric man striking a stone, just so that the force would split a crystal perfectly along pre-determined planes, was a scientist. A rock scientist. He, or she, was engaging in an application of a science we now know as crystallography. (And also in the theory of the mechanical forces, vector calculus.)

Humanity has blossomed, because humanity has learned how to establish, for sure, certain truths which required artificially devised experiments, and the proclivity to push the last frontier of truth, ever more, by being ever more subtle.

We evolved to become an intentionally scientific, that is, prone to experiment, species.


And philosophy and its philosophical method, in all that? It’s the category of all the wild guesses, absolutely indispensable to suggest the next experiments, to feed tomorrow’s truths.


Science Is Starting To Address Ethics, And Theory Of Mind:

Long the rage smoldered between the so called “humanities” and science. How obsolete. Clearly science is making inroads in the humanities, and clearly the humanities can ask pointed questions to physics, biology, even engineering. Let’s consider the first point, how science is informing humanities.

There is a science called ethology. It comes from “ethos” which means character. Ethology is the logic of character. Ethos also gave the notion of ethics.

Ethology originally was the study of character of animals, from their objective behavior. A number of methods pertaining to the field were developed, Nobel Prizes in biology and medicine were awarded to ethologists.

Then, in the following decades, it dawned on ethologists that the methods of ethology could be extended to the study of the human character.

This is why I am surprised when I hear that one needs a metaphysics to have an ethics. Instead, ethics is something that is determined by the bottom up (instead of top down).

First, through trial, error, and natural selection, human ethology evolved in the last 500 million years. Nature played scientist to evolve us.

Second, human beings observe, and make theories, even social and ethical theories, and then they apply what is basically the scientific method to them.

The scientific method consists in establishing with reasonable certainty facts. As it becomes ever more subtle, it can address ever more sophisticated domains, which used to be exclusively philosophical.

An example? The Theory of Mind. That is a subject long exclusively philosophical. However, scientific research published in recent years showed that children exposed to a second language have, in the average, a better theory of mind. Here is a fresh example, published in 2015:

Here is an abstract of the research:

HUMAN beings are not born with the knowledge that others possess minds with different contents. Children develop such a “theory of mind” gradually, and even adults have it only imperfectly. But a study by Samantha Fan and Zoe Liberman at the University of Chicago, published in Psychological Science, finds that bilingual children, and also those simply exposed to another language on a regular basis, have an edge at the business of getting inside others’ minds… Some objects were blocked from the experimenter’s sight, a fact the children could clearly see. With a large, a medium and a small car visible to the child, but the small car hidden from the adult, the adult would ask “I see a small car” and ask the child to move it. Both bilingual and those in the exposure group moved the medium-sized car (the smallest the experimenter could see) about 75% of the time, against 50% for the monolinguals. The successful children were less likely even to glance at the car the experimenter could not see.

Why is this happening? Multilingual children observe that different languages provide with different perspectives, thus different theories (theory means literally, to “see” (horan) a “view” (thea)). So multilingual children are more apt to consider which view others see, when considering others.

Multilingual children have a theory of theories of behavior, and we can prove it scientifically. Epistemics” is now a science. And it informs morality.

We are the scientific species. No science, no man. Now, more than ever. And at last smart enough to understand what it means. It means: “Plus Oultre!”, as emperor Charles Quint put it, five centuries ago. Wherever we arrived, in place, time, or understanding, we have to go beyond. It’s not just what ecology requires, it’s what we are.

Patrice Ayme’

Why God Is Evil

March 24, 2015

The Victorian philosopher and mathematician W. K. Clifford’s following admonition is at the core of the moral call of the “New Atheists”, a few mini philosophers who make the Anglo-American divine plutocratic order tremble: “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

An academic philosopher appropriately called “Ruse” concludes his article “Why God Is A Moral Issue” with: “[Clifford’s] universal claim may be too strong. But too often religious believers seem oblivious to Clifford’s admonition and accept things with way too little evidence. That I much suspect is what motivates the New Atheists and in fact expresses the deepest and most powerful moral objection to theism.”

Difference Between Us & Grizzlies? Not Much Greater Love, But Much Greater Smarts.

Difference Between Us & Grizzlies? Not Much Greater Love, But Much Greater Smarts.

[Smarts is what religions kill, and humanity with it, as I will pound below.]

Clifford was a great mathematician. He pushed further the idea of Riemann that force and curvature are roughly the same (this is the core intuition in the Theory of Gravitation commonly attributed to Einstein).

I agree with Clifford, sort of, but I am going to go much further.

Is it wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence?

Sure. However, it is unavoidable. And this is not really the problem with “isms” such as Christianism and Islamism.

The distinction between guessing and believing is, in general, not too clear, and insufficient evidence is more frequent that certainty (that’s called science).

But clearly believing something important with insufficient evidence can be a maximum moral wrong, when it is about life and death of entire populations.

What Superstition Based Religions Kill.

Some religions have actually orders, in their sacred texts, not just to tax, or punish, but even to kill various “unbelievers” if they are “culprit” of some behaviors. This is all over the Qur’an, as I generously documented in “Violence In The Holy Qur’an“. Yet the Qur’an was following the Old Testament by  11 centuries, and the new one (where Christ also recommends to kill unbelievers) by 6 centuries or so.

The nature and consequences of the evidence supporting a “belief” is of the utmost importance. If one believes that jumping from the fourth floor will have adverse consequences, it’s good, especially for passerby.

Yet, precisely, some religions have been organized so as to make one believe completely incredible feats (one son of god walked on water, came back from the dead, another “messenger” flew on the back of a winged horse from Mecca to Jerusalem, etc.).

These unbelievable details are not there by accident. They are there to dull the sense of critique people learn to exert in early childhood.

Learning to believe in unbelievable, absurd details is a preparation for the ultimate sin:

“It is the highest criminality always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything potentially capable of oppressing, exploiting, stealing, abusing, invading, threatening, torturing and killing millions for insufficient or flimsy reasons.”

Seven Jewish children just died in New York. It was Shabbat, a sort of Jewish sorcery day. The order then, from the god of the Jews, is that no work ought to be done. Including turning off the hot plate. So the hot plate, or god, whatever, set the house on fire. God is great! Alleluia!

(This sort, of we-shall-do-nothing, Inch Allah (god wills it), dieu-le-veut, led to millions killed, the latest major example in sight being the holocaust of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis: Jews did not resist as much as they could have, but, instead, the “Judenraten” collaborated with Hitler. The simplest way to stop Hitler was just to tell all Germans what the Nazis were truly doing, assassinating the Jews, and add that they were all responsible, and would be punished accordingly. That could have been done with little pieces of paper dropped from planes at the same time as the bombs.)

Both Islam and Christianity have in their sacred texts, “verses of the sword” where holly script recommend to “kill unbelievers”. (Yes, as already said many times, Christ too; one good enough reason for crucifixion!)

Once one has become so morally inferior as to be ready to do such terrible things to millions, for so little cause, one is ready for even much worse.

Religions based on knowing god, and giving their followers deadly recommendations on how to deal with “unbelievers” incite human beings to the ultimate inhumanity.

Not just because of the potential, theoretical, experimental, and historical mayhem they are prone to.

How could one do something worse than being willing to kill millions for little cause?

Not simply by transforming human beings into vicious human beings. But into even worse creatures.

How could that be?

It is as monstrous as it gets. What is the definition of the human species? Intelligence.

What does dulling human beings’ sense of critique to the point that one would kill for a drawing, or for looking at ancient art, or listening to music?

It is very simple: religions that extreme in light of the lethal consequences their beliefs may bring, makes human beings into stupid beasts.

In case you don’t believe me, look at Abraham tying up his son, so he can stab him.

See my “Follies That Bind.” Where you can see the great Judeo-Christiano-Muslim hero stabbing a child. (Hey, His boSS told him to! You know, you should always obey the boss, both the Qur’an, S 4, v 59, and its parrot, Hitler, said so.)

So Abraham stabs children, and Christians lick his toes. Precisely because he stabs children. Then Catholics and other mentality untalented sinkers, claim to be surprised that priests rape children and the like. Well, but, of course! Those good Judeo-Christo-Islamists are following Abraham, the most cruel, and thus adored beast in the known universe!

And that, willful beastly stupidity of the most criminal type, is the ultimate sin, because it is the ultimate denial of morality.

This is no coincidence: both Christianism and Islamism have been imposed by war chiefs (Constantine, Jovian, Theodosius and other emperors for Christianism; Muhammad and the four initial Caliphs). They had a vested interest to make the people they ruled over credulous, immoral, subdued, and not smart.

They were highly successful.

And this is why American plutocracy reintroduced god massively to the USA in the 1930s (as even the New York Times recently explained), and why then it made a pact with Ibn Saud to push the ideology of Islamism in the Middle East, in 1945 (See the “Great Bitter Lake Conspiracy“).

Not that this was an accident: the USA made deals with Egypt “Muslim Brotherhood” in the late 1940s, and Khomeini’s Shiites in Iran in 1953, to organize a coup against Parliamentary Democracy (and then proceeded to back stab both of them, of course). Same in Pakistan.

You reap what you sowed. Plutocracy sowed superstitious religion and stupidity, it is reaping the best plutocracy in a century. What could go wrong, when wrong has been defined as good, and, even, divine?

If it is good to kill your son, as Abraham and his robotic followers claim, how could things ever get worse? How dumber can one get?

Patrice Ayme’

Emotional Thinking Is Superior Thinking

March 11, 2015

By claiming that emotional thinking is superior, I do not mean that “logical” thinking ought to be rejected. I am just saying what I am saying, and no more. Not, just the opposite, “logical” thinking ought to be embraced. However, there are many “logical” types of thought possible.

Emotional and logical thinking can be physiologically distinguished in the brain (the latter is mostly about axons; the former about the rest).

Any “logical” thinking is literally, a chain made of points. (And there are no points in nature, said a Quantum Angel who passed by; let’s ignore her, for now!)

Elliptic Geometry In Action: Greeks, 240 BCE, Understood The Difference Between Latitude & Geodesic (Great Circle)

Elliptic Geometry In Action: Greeks, 240 BCE, Understood The Difference Between Latitude & Geodesic (Great Circle)

Some say that hard logic, and mathematics is how to implement “correct thinking”. Those who say this, do not know modern logic, as practiced in logic departments of the most prestigious universities.

In truth, overall, logicians spent their careers proposing putative, potential foundations for logic. Ergo, there is no overall agreement, from the specialists of the field themselves, about what constitute acceptable foundations for “logic”.

It is the same situation in mathematics.

Actually dozens of prestigious mathematicians (mostly French) launched themselves, in the 1950s into a project to make mathematics rigorous. They called their effort “Bourbaki”.

Meanwhile some even more prestigious mathematicians, or at least the best of them all, Grothendieck, splendidly ignored their efforts, and, instead, founded mathematics on Category Theory.

Many mathematicians were aghast, because they had no idea whatsoever what Category Theory could be about. They derided it as “Abstract Nonsense”.

Instead it was rather “Abstract Sense”.

But let’s take a better known example: Euclid.

There are two types of fallacies in Euclid.

The simplest one is the logical fallacy of deducing, from emotion, what the axioms did not imply. Euclid felt that two circles which looked like they should intersect, did intersect. Emotionally seductive, but not a consequence of his axioms.

Euclid’s worst fallacy was to exclude most of geometry, namely what’s not in a plane. It’s all the more striking as “Non-Euclidean” geometry had been considered just prior. So Euclid closed minds, and that’s as incorrect as incorrect can be.

To come back to logic as studied by logicians: the logicS considered therein, are much general than those used in mathematics. Yet, as no conclusion was reached, this implies that mathematics itself is illogical. That, of course, is a conclusion mathematicians detest. And the proof of their pudding is found in physics, computer science, engineering.

So what to do, to determine correct arguments? Well, direct towards any argument an abrasive, offensive malevolence, trying to poke holes, just as a mountain lion canines try to pass between vertebras to dislocate a spine.

That’s one approach. The other, more constructive, but less safe, is to hope for the best, and launched logical chains in the multiverses of unchained axiomatics.

Given the proper axioms, (most of) an argument can generally be saved. The best arguments often deserve better axiomatics (so it was with Leibnitz’s infinitesimals).

So, de facto, people have longed been using not just “inverse probability”, but “inverse logic”. In “inverse logic”, axioms are derived from what one FEELS ought to be a correct argument.

Emotions driving axiomatics is more metalogical, than axiomatics driving emotions.


To the preceding philosophy professor Massimo Pigliucci replied (in part) that:


“…Hence, to think critically, one needs enough facts. Namely all relevant facts.”

Enough facts is not the same as all the relevant facts, as incorrectly implied by the use of “namely.” 

“It is arrogant to think that other people are prone to “logical fallacies”.”

It is an observation, and facts are not arrogant. 

“A Quantum Wave evaluates the entirety of possible outcomes, then computes how probable they are.”

Are you presenting quantum waves as agents? They don’t evaluate and compute, they just behave according to the laws of physics.

“just as with the Quantum, this means to think teleologically, no holds barred”

The quantum doesn’t think, as far as I know. 

“Emotional Thinking Is Superior Thinking” 

I have no idea what you mean by that. Superior in what sense? And where’s the bright line between reason and emotion?

“Any “logical” thinking is literally, a chain made of points”

No, definitely not “literally.” 

It may not follow from the axioms, but I am having a hard time being emotionally seductive by intersecting circles. 

“Euclid’s worst fallacy was to exclude most of geometry, namely what’s not in a plane.”

That’s an historically bizarre claim to make. Like saying that Newton’s worst fallacy was to exclude considerations of general relativity. C’mon. 

“as no conclusion was reached, this implies that mathematics itself is illogical” 

Uhm, no. 

“to hope for the best, and launch logical chains in the multiverses of unchained axiomatics” 

Very poetic, I have no idea what that means, though.”


Massimo Pigliucci is professor of philosophy at CUNY in New York, and has doctorates both in biology and philosophy. However, truth does not care about having one, or two thousands doctorates. It would take too long to address all of Massimo’s errors (basically all of his retorts above). Let me just consider two points where he clings to Common Wisdom like a barnacle to a rock. The question of Non-Euclidean geometry, and of the Quantum. He published most of the answer below on his site:

Dear Massimo:

Impertinence and amusement help thought. Thank you for providing both. Unmotivated thought is not worth having.

The Greeks discovered Non-Euclidean geometry. It’s hidden in plain sight. It is a wonder that, to this day, so many intellectuals repeat Gauss’ self-serving absurdities on the subject (Gauss disingenuously claimed that he had discovered it all before Janos Bolyai, but did not publish it because he feared the “cries of the Beotians”… aka the peasants; Gauss does not tell you that a professor of jurisprudence had sketched to him how Non-Euclidean geometry worked… in 1818! We have the correspondence.).

The truth is simpler: Gauss did not think of the possibility of Non-Euclidean geometry (although he strongly suspected Euclidean geometry was not logical). Such a fame greedster could not apparently resist the allure of claiming the greatest prize…

It is pretty abysmal that most mathematicians are not thinking enough, and honest enough, to be publicly aware of Gauss’ shenanigans (Gauss is one of the few Muhammads of mathematics). But that fits the fact that they want mathematics to be an ethereal church, the immense priests of which they are. To admit Gauss got some of his ideas from a vulgar lawyers, is, assuredly, too painful.

That would be too admit the “Prince of Mathematics” was corrupt, thus, all mathematicians too (and, indeed, most of them are! Always that power thing; to recognize ideas have come out of the hierarchy in mathematics is injurious to the hierarchy… And by extension to Massimo.)

So why do I claim the Greeks invented Non-Euclidean geometry? Because they did; it’s a fact. It is like having the tallest mountain in the world in one’s garden, and not having noticed it: priests, and princes, are good at this, thus, most mathematicians.

The Greek astronomer Ptolemy wrote in his Geography (circa 150 CE):

“It has been demonstrated by mathematics that the surface of the land and water is in its entirety a sphere…and that any plane which passes through the centre makes at its surface, that is, at the surface of the Earth and of the sky, great circles.”

Not just this, but, nearly 400 years earlier, Eratosthenes had determined the size of Earth (missing by just 15%).

How? The Greeks used spherical geometry.

Great circles are the “straight lines” of spherical geometry. This is a consequence of the properties of a sphere, in which the shortest distances on the surface are great circle routes. Such curves are said to be “intrinsically” straight.

Better: Eusebius of Caesarea proposed 149 million kilometers for the distance of the Sun! (Exactly the modern value.)

Gauss, should he be around, would whine that the Greeks did not know what they were doing. But the Greeks were no fools. They knew what they were doing.

Socrates killed enemies in battle. Contemporary mathematicians were not afraid of the Beotians, contrarily to Gauss.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) was keen to demonstrate that logic could be many things. Aristotle was concerned upon the dependency of logic on the axioms one used. Thus Aristotle’s Non-Euclidean work is contained in his works on Ethics.

A thoroughly modern approach.

The philosopher Imre Toth observed the blatant presence of Non-Euclidean geometry in the “Corpus Aristotelicum” in 1967.

Aristotle exposed the existence of geometries different from plane geometry. The approach is found in no less than SIX different parts of Aristotle’s works. Aristotle outright says that, in a general geometry, the sum of the angles of a triangle can be equal to, or more than, or less than, two right angles.

One cannot be any clearer about the existence on Non-Euclidean geometry.

Actually Aristotle introduced an axiom, Aristotle’s Axiom, a theorem in Euclidean and Hyperbolic geometry (it is false in Elliptic geometry, thus false on a sphere).

Related to Aristotle’s Axiom is Archimedes’ Axiom (which belongs to modern Model Theory).

One actually finds non trivial, beautiful NON-Euclidean theorems in Aristotle (one of my preferred frienemies).

Non-Euclidean geometry was most natural: look at a sphere, look at a saddle, look at a pillow. In Ethika ad Eudemum, Aristotle rolls out the spectacular example of a quadrangle with the maximum eight right angles sum for its interior angles.

Do Quantum Wave think? Good question, I have been asking it to myself for all too many decades.

Agent: from Latin “agentem”, what sets in motion. Quantum waves are the laws of physics: given a space, they evaluate, compute. This is the whole idea of the Quantum Computer. So far, they have been uncooperative. Insulting them, won’t help.

Patrice Ayme’

In Today’s USA, Losers Are Sinners

January 25, 2015


Kristof in the New York Times relates the loss of a childhood friend, and Kristof accuses a MOOD: the lack of empathy. This story is highly evocative of the general mood in the USA (and its significant difference with the ‘welfare’, institutionalized empathy in Europe).

This sort of story points at importance of systems of moods. Those are off the radar of conventional sociology and philosophy.

“YAMHILL, Ore. — THE funeral for my high school buddy Kevin Green is Saturday, near this town where we both grew up. The doctors say he died at age 54 of multiple organ failure, but in a deeper sense he died of inequality and a lack of good jobs.

Lots of Americans would have seen Kevin — obese with a huge gray beard, surviving on disability and food stamps — as a moocher. They would have been harshly judgmental: Why don’t you look after your health? Why did you father two kids outside of marriage?

That acerbic condescension reflects one of this country’s fundamental problems: an empathy gap. It reflects the delusion on the part of many affluent Americans that those like Kevin are lazy or living cushy lives. A poll released this month by the Pew Research Center found that wealthy Americans mostly agree that “poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.””

But, says Kristof, the problem with people like Kevin (of which there are tens of millions in the USA), is not that they are lazy, but that there are no decent, well-paying jobs:

“Lazy? Easy? Kevin used to set out with his bicycle and a little trailer to collect cans by the roadside. He would make about $20 a day.”

Resident Reagan had the following idiotic retort: there are no despicable jobs. All are equally honorable.

However, a country is only as rich as the sum of all the added value of the products its jobs provide with. If a country, such as Saudi Arabia, Australia, or the USA has immense mineral wealth, it can be rich, or at least not dirt poor (Venezuela, Russia) with few people working.

Right now the USA is rich for quite a few reasons that are unique, thanks to its geography, and its history (dollar as reserve currency, and the buying of complicit elites in tens of countries, worldwide).

“Kevin’s dad had only a third-grade education and couldn’t read. But he had a good union job as a cement finisher, paying far above the minimum wage, and he worked hard and made sure his kids did, too. He had no trouble with the law.

Kevin and his big sister, Cindy — one of the sweetest girls in school — both earned high school diplomas. Kevin was sunny, cheerful and astonishingly helpful: Any hint that something needed fixing, and he was there with a wrench. But then the dream began to disintegrate.

The local glove factory and feed store closed, and other blue-collar employers cut back. Good union jobs became hard to find.”

[Kevin became a] “manager making trailer homes. He fell in love and had twin boys that he doted on. But because he and his girlfriend struggled financially, they never married.

Then, about 15 years ago, Kevin hurt his back and was laid off. Soon afterward, his girlfriend moved out, took the kids and asked for child support…. [Kevin] was far behind in child support and was punished by losing his driver’s license — which made it pretty much impossible to get a job in a rural area… ”

And so on: poor nutrition, 350 pounds, diabetes, heart attack, death…

Loss of hope. Loss of faith in a society drifting towards ignobility.

The mood, in the USA, as in all countries, is organized by the ruling elite. The USA is turning away from the equal opportunity society (for the whites) post World War Two. (Or the one that existed for centuries prior, by just going west!)

Instead, democracy is slowly strangled by plutocracy. So the mood is all about the Law of the Jungle being the normal law of the land. Thus lack of empathy is part of the system. Only the “philanthropists” (another name for the plutocrats) are supposed to have empathy. Others can get lost.

Universities make millions each from “college sports”. Players are basically not paid. However, they get good grades, although they don’t need to attend classes (or then purely formally, occasionally!) Professors are supposed to be part of the plot (and better be, if they want their departments to keep on existing!)

To justify the superiority of those who have it all, and often inherited it all, one has to be able to punish those who are not playing the game. The more those who look as if they deserved to be low lives, suffer, the better. So the society is actually organized to create misery, and punish it. Losers are sinners. Thus winners are philanthropists.

By not taking care of those who deserve empathy, resources are freed to protect and expand the empire of those who have it all, and want more. The resulting might insure the success of the USA as the greatest nation on Earth.

It may be all very perverse, but it sure works very well. As a blossoming plutocracy. Watch the GDP expanding at a 5% rate. Of course, mostly because wealth is expanding at an even higher rate.

However, common people work hard in the USA. Harder than in most other places. Why? Because there is a lack of empathy. Common citizens know that, if they fail, not only will they be punished, but they will be viewed as sinners.

Google earns 50 billion dollars a month. And pays no significant tax. When crime gets big enough, it is divine: this is a mood the Bible and the Qur’an imparts.

Meanwhile, in Germany one German out of ten never heard of Auschwitz. I saw a group of full grown high school students facing a panel with names. None seemed to know what it was. When the instructor of the Jewish Museum asked if a name told them something, there was giggling. Ravensbruck, Dachau, Auschwitz… None knew a single name of extermination camps.

Let Germany not get in a mood of forgetfulness. German orderliness, and discipline are wonderful moods, in the service of goodness, but not in the service of forgetfulness.

Moods are deeper and more pervasive than systems of thought.

That is why religions cannot be separated from society, let alone civilization. Only secular humanism is compatible with today’s civilization. But humanism has always been about having sufficient empathy.

The USA is riding high on fracking at this point, and similar plots. And Germany used to ride high enough to feel optimistic about attacking the world. But only sustainable moods are wise.

In a superiorly intelligent species, intelligence can only born from empathy. So empathy, not profit, is at the center of civilization. Let Greece show the way!

Patrice Ayme’