Archive for the ‘Thinking’ Category

Sexual Dimorphism: Small To Non-Existent In Humans, Due To Weaponry!

November 13, 2017

So many things to write about! I intended to consider sexual harassment, gender discrimination and that sex abuse which hides the more sinister pleasure sheer violence provides with. But then I realized I had to address natural gender differences first. We’ll get to the gender violence and subjugation, soon, but not now.

Species are more or less sexually dimorphic, that is, with more or less sex differences imputable to genetic expression. In some species females dominate in mass, or other ways (hyenas, some raptors, spiders, insects, etc.)  

In most primates mostly closely related to us, the sexual differences are significant: males are much bigger and ferocious It makes sense: females have to be numerous, to reproduce the species, and they can be numerous, if they have small mass. The males are in charge of defense, attack, and high quality meat procurement. To accomplish all this fighting, killing and threat thereof, they better big, nasty, and with great canines: the males themselves are a bit like nuclear bombs, weapons of assured destruction. This is clear with our homologues, baboons (not our closest relatives, but the closest in ancestral way of life).

In some parts of Africa, chimpanzees are known as “lion-killers”. Chimps don’t have just the fangs, but they know how to fight: they tear off the fragile stuff first. Chimp women can’t argue with them! However, a human female, much weaker than a chimp female, can kill a male chimp (and the male chimp knows this, in the wild! As a child, in the wild, I saw once a huge male chimp shake an entire tree, as if he had gone completely mad, in the hope of scaring me; when I came close to observe the lunacy, he fled, although he could have probably pulverized me in two seconds; but he knew human children were off limits)

Here is an imaginative proof: Gibbons, although not very distant relative can have no sexual dimorphism. Although gibbons defend their territory, males and females do it equally. Gibbons live in trees to a much greater extent than other relatives, so violence is less of a factor in the survival of the species (whereas chimpanzees not only fight man, but also lions and leopards; bonobos are much nicer than chimps, but their way of life is closer to gibbons than to chimpanzees: there are no lions where they live (south of the Congo river). Humans live in the exact opposite environment to gibbons: instead of swinging from branch to branch, as gibbons do, 30 meters above the deck, the genus Homo evolved in the most dangerous environment, the savannah-park, confronting giant monsters, most of whom it has exterminated since (in the latest news, when humans colonized the Caribbean, they eliminated the giant ground sloths there; in toto, humans eliminated no less than 19 genera of giant ground sloths in the Americas!).

Human species have small gender differences. Why? The reason for sexual dimorphism I just sketched is that females have to be as small as possible, so there will be more of them to reproduce, and the males with big bodies, high ferocity, will protect them by acting as live weapons for the group (many insects have such an organization, say soldier ants). However, humans have used weapons for at least three million years: stones. Moreover, humans are better at throwing stones than baboons, because of their anatomy (paleolithically speaking, the arms which enable us to hang from branches are also those which enable us to throw arms much further; arms arm our arms!).

Hence the main reason for much bigger males disappeared, long ago, when humans learned to throw stones. A human female armed with a stone axe is more dangerous than an even a much larger human male without a stone. The stone makes the difference, not the fangs. Let me pound on this: male baboons have been observed biting female baboons. One bite. The long, enormous baboon male canines can easily go through a rib cage, and, thus kill. With just one bite.

One may ponder why female raptors have roughly the same deadly talons and beaks as males, and similar masses (sometimes the females are a bit heavier). Why aren’t they smaller, to maximize the number of raptors, following the reasoning I proffered for primates? Simply because they would then have to kill different, smaller prey, and thus live totally differently, hence in different environments. Whereas primates live in the same environment, but, thanks to their omnivorous character, they can specialize: the males go after the meat, the violence, the killing. Females can concentrate more on the vegetarian aspect, and share the meat. (DNA stool studies have shown orangutans and gorillas eat meat; for chimps, that has always been known.)

The sexual dimorphism has been evaluated at roughly 10% in humans, on some objective measurements of some physiology. Mentally, it’s a fact that women, although severely hindered by sexism, have been capable of the highest performance: one of the most performing physicists, historically speaking, was a woman, Émilie du Châtelet. Her work on energy was a breakthrough rolling over Isaac Newton himself!

Thus we can assume that most of the observed difference between men and women in the mental realm is caused by sexism.

And then the question becomes: what are the causal relationships between sexism, sexualism, violence, will to power. And the non-optimal society? They involve the evolutionary metaphysics of the genus Homo.

Patrice Ayme’

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Why Absolute Power Corrupts Outrageously

October 31, 2016

The Clintons, their friends the plutocrats, and their greedy servants have behaved ever more outrageously, ever since they outrigged, out-performed and outreached Reagan himself. This is part of a general pattern: absolute power brings absolute outrage, and that’s the only way to get rid of it.

Why are all too powerful individuals inclined to outrageous acts? Caligula fed his horse gold flakes while visiting serious tortures on many. French king Louis XIV honored the mightiest in his kingdom by pooping while they watched.. Then, naturally enough, the self-described Sun King pooped on French civilization, by pooping on his grandfather foremost achievement (peace with Protestantism). The end result was a weakening of France, thus Europe, which persists, to this day.

Kaiser Wilhelm II, self-described greatest lover of Great Britain, launched a world war in July 1914, mostly because he could. It was certainly an outrageous, gratuitous act, from a man with absolute power. 

Huma Abedin, Clinton’s “Daughter” & Business Woman Extraordinaire Will Say, Or Do, Whatever To Cling To Power

Huma Abedin, Clinton’s “Daughter” & Business Woman Extraordinaire Will Say, Or Do, Whatever To Cling To Power

[While chief of staff at the State Department, Abedin was officially allowed to pile up other jobs outside, with her own consultancy, and, of course, the Clinton Foundation. Don’t worry: she is now 40 years old, and a multimillionaire. Brought up in Saudi Arabia and connected to Muslim Fundamentalists, Abedin looks like an agent of the Saudi government of sorts. Remember that Obama was just overruled by Congress and the Senate to enable the prosecution of Saudi Arabia for 9/11… The elites of Wahington-Wall Street have long been entangled with the monster they created, Saudi Arabia.]

Adolf Hitler went on a succession of quasi-suicidal, outrageous acts, starting in 1939. In 1939, Hitler allied himself with Stalin to invade Poland, facing a world war with France and Britain (a war which clearly Hitler could not win). Then Hitler went on, invading all sorts of countries, all the way to attacking the USSR and declaring war to the USA (hey, why not, since Hitler felt he had lost in 1939). The result of all these outrages was that Europe lost the leadership of the civilization it had created (which has passed to start-ups such as Russia and the USA).

***

Beyond The Will To Power, The Will To Outrage:

Clearly, from their own words, the behavior of many of the mighty, from Caesar to Napoleon, is explained by an obsessive “Will to Power”. Nietzsche explained much human behavior that way. However, what happens when people have already all the power? Well, folly happens.

Think about it. How does a human being demonstrate power over another human being?    

More recent examples? US government officials (like Rumsfeld, US Sec. of Defense) declaring the Geneva Convention “quaint”, and violating it, for the whole world to see, in all possible ways, while invading and devastating Iraq (at least the Nazis tried to hide the evil they were doing). Or Obama conducting “signature strikes” (using the US military for deadly strikes within countries the US is not at war with, just because some gathering had the ‘signature’ of possible gathering of whom some secret organization in the US as possible malefactors).

Outrage can be profitable: Clinton was told of debate questions in advance. As I listened carefully (recording and re-listening to the debates), it seems clear to me, at least for the first debate with Trump, that Clinton knew of the coming questions. The questions were so ridiculous, Trump was surprised, even baffled, but Clinton came up with slick, rehearsed answers. That’s how I know. Since then, Wikileaks has revealed that knowing the questions in advance, in excruciating detail, is how Clinton defeated Sanders. It’s not just because it was advantageous, but also because it was dangerous, outrageous. That made it exciting.

Why did Bill Clinton officiate at the Abedin-Weiner wedding? (He actually did not have any authority to do so.) Weiner, long a “Democratic” congressman, is an obsessive-compulsive serial adulterer and pedophile who loves to publish his feats on the Internet. Weiner called himself “Carlos Danger” on the Internet.

So Weiner married to Clinton’s “second daughter”. Speaking of daughter, Chelsea Clinton travels around the world with the best accommodations, thanks to the “Clinton Foundation”. Clinton, a presidential candidate, travelled free of personal charge, thanks to said Foundation. All this costs a lot to the Foundation. Right, Bill Gates does the same (using the private airline he owns with Buffet to do so; thus double-billing taxpayers).

The Foundation Law was passed within minutes, and to compensate for, the creation of Income Tax Law. So the wealthiest Americans, like the Clinton or Gates, give millions to a Foundation (the Clintons have actually two entangled Foundations). Then those millions are deduced from the taxes they have to pay. Then as officers of the Foundation they need “first class, or private jet travel because of security and other requirements” as the Clinton Foundation explains. In other words, they live like aristocrats.

According to Roman historians (Suetonius, Cassius Dio), Caligula intended to make his prefered stallion, Incitatus, Consul. That was too much, and the head of the Praetorian guard decided to plant his sword in Caligula’s groin, and other crucial places, bringing his demise.

How did Caligula’s mood grow? As the preceding commander-in-chief (“imperator”) Tiberius sank into melancholy and increasing depravity, his influence rubbed off on the young Caligula. (see the case of Sextus Marius who was charged with incest with his daughter on the pretext of seizing his Spanish gold mines even that could have been done in the name of the state). As Tacitus puts it: “It was it probable that, when Tiberius with his long experience of affairs was, under the influence of absolute power, wholly perverted and changed, Caius Caesar [nickname: Little Boots, Caligula], who had hardly completed his boyhood, was thoroughly ignorant and bred under the vilest training, would enter on a better course, with Macro for his guide.

As I hinted above, the Will to Power is not everything: those at the top have to feel themselves exerting it. In the case of baboons, the subordinate has to offer his, or her bottom for the superior to consider (doing whatever it please with). But what of the case of one of our baboon-leaders, in the age of the Internet? Or in the age of the Roman empire, for that matter? The superiors, those with absolute power have to feel the subjugation and submission, of their inferior subordinates. They feel it, when they commit obvious outrages, and the miserable subordinates can only deplore the outrages deep inside, and do nothing about them.

The Roman empire, at least until Diocletian (circa 300 CE) was, formally, a Republic, SPQR, The Senate and People of Rome. The (now so-called) “emperors” were just commander in chief (“imperators”) and “first”, or “principal” in the Senate (“Princeps” from which “Prince” was evolved). In practice, they had absolute power.

After Tiberius, the principle that the Republic would be led by a imperator-princeps was more accepted. Thus, for the individuals at the top to feel that power, to be rewarded by that feeling, to compensate the risks they took, outrages had to be performed. The mood of committing outrages started discreetly under Tiberius (who performed tortures in Capri, but, overall, ordered at most a handful of executions, arguably less than Obama (I explained this in the past: of the 36 or so executions under Tiberius most were ordered by the Senate, and fully justified, because of very serious lethal conspiracies, which killed his sons, without him knowing!)

***

The More Powerful One Is, The More One Seeks Outrage:

For years Hillary has been hanging around the outrageous Bill Clinton (bad enough! Clinton apparently used the power of the offices he held for various sexual favors with many women, and lied about it under oath, leading to his quasi-impeachment). Apparently unsatisfied by these puny scandals, Hillary pushed onto her apparent closest friend and collaborator, Huma Abedin, her “second daughter”, a sex maniac (initially Abedin resisted). Weiner the Wiener, a sex addicted Congressman, sent unlawful material to, or in the presence of children, from 4 to 15-year-old.

Thanks to his Clinton connection Weiner is not yet in prison. However, the FBI just came into possession of a device of containing 650,000 emails, some of them (probably) classified Clinton emails. (A crude approach to insurance, if you want my opinion.)

As Weiner’s monicker, “Carlos Danger”  indicates, people who already have power do not want just power, as they already have it, but danger. But what happens when they have had it for a very long time, and got away with it, and did all outrageous things they could dream of? Well, they get new dreams, even more outrageous that the preceding ones. For Clinton to flaunt her relationship with lovers of pedophiles qualifies.

So does considering Bill Gates, or Tim Cook, the Apple chief, as Hillary did, for Vice President. Many people around the world consider Bill Gates to be a criminal. No, not because of the way he founded Microsoft (mostly from appropriating others’ property, thank in part to his mother, an IBM director). But rather in the way he co-opted local government official to push for Genetically Modified Organisms made by Monsanto, a Gates investment vehicle and collaborator of its Gates Foundation. Monsanto GMOs turned out to be a disaster for African peasant who were ruined and devastated. Countries such as Burkina Fasso just made them unlawful.

Caligula wanted to make his horse a Consul, because he wanted to get away with outrage greater than any he had visited on We The People before. The equally endowed from birth Commodus would get away with even greater outrages than those Caligula wrought (who reigned only 4 years).

So it was with many Roman emperors: ever greater outrages. Diocletian proclaimed himself god, and his quasi-successor Constantine, proclaimed himself to be the Thirteenth Apostle…. Until the entire grotesque show became so dysfunctional, the semi-barbarian Germans, the Franks took over, and started the slow process of re-establishing civilization (starting around 400 CE), by reducing the power of the oligarchs and plutocrats.

The present leaders of the USA have been so powerful as to be arrogantly outrageous. They treated the state as their private property. That the same holds for Russia, China, North Korea, or Zimbabwe, or Venezuela, is besides the point: the US is supposed to be a democracy. And so is the West (although, as the West is more united than it looks, the rest of the West has become as democratic as the US, by obeying Washington-Wall Street orders).

Time for a flood, to clean the mess.

Patrice Ayme’

Bees Learn From Culture & Experience

October 25, 2016

When “INSTINCT” IN BEES:TURNS OUT TO BE LEARNING JUST AS HUMANS DO. Bees Practice The Experimental Method, Observe Others & Transmit Knowledge To Others!

Bumblebees can experiment and learn to pull a string to get a sugar water reward and then pass that skill on to other bees.

This comforts a long-held opinion of mine. See: https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/instinct-is-fast-learning/.

There I claimed that:

“Innate Knowledge” is a stupid idea. The truth is the exact opposite: LEARNING IS EVERYWHERE, OUT THERE. Learning is the opposite of innate. This insight has tremendous consequences on our entire prehension of the world.

My reasoning was typical philosophy: well-informed general reasons. Now there is increasing evidence that not only big brained vertebrates, but smaller brained invertebrates learn.

Conclusion: we humans do not differ from other animals, even insects, in kind, but in the amount of capability we enjoy. Thus, if we want to be truly human as much as we cannot just lay there like cows.  If we want to be fully human we must learn more of what is significant, and learn how to learn it. We cannot just sit on our hands and do as Barack Obama, the do-not much not-so-funny clown in chief, did, obsess about easy one liners and sport scores.

***

Intelligence Is A Fact, Instinct Just A Vague Theory:

For years, cognitive scientist Lars Chittka was intimidated by studies of apes, crows, parrots, and other brainy giants. Crows make tools. And they obviously talk to each other (my personal observation in the mountains). From the latest research in Brazil, parrots seem to have advanced language among themselves (which we don’t understand yet, as it too fast and high pitch for humans to hear it, and there is too much “austerity” around to pay scientists to understand the world as much as they could).

Chittka worked on bees, and almost everyone assumed that the insects acted on so-called instinct, not intelligence. Instinct? Come again.

As Bumblebees Can Learn To Pull Strings, So Can Plutocrats. Thus We Need To Outlaw Such Pluto Strings

Hillary Pulling Out Her Reward? As Bumblebees Can Learn To Pull Strings, So Can Plutocrats. Thus We Need To Outlaw Such Pluto Strings

Sophisticated behavior from “instinct” is a rather stupid assumption, because it is a superfluous assumption: Who needs instinct to explain an animal’s behavior, when we have simple, old fashion intelligence to explain it? Well, speciesists! (Same as who needs the Big Bang, a theory, when we have Dark Energy, a fact, to explain the expansion of the universe.)

Indeed we know of intelligence (some people, and certainly children, can be observed to have it). We can observe intelligence, and roughly understand how it works (it works by establishing better neurology, that is, neurology which fits facts better).

We can define intelligence, we cannot define instinct. But what is an instinct? We can neither observe “instinct”, for sure, instead of learning. Nor can we give a plausible mechanism of how “instinct” would generate complex behaviors (DNA does not code for “instinct”).  

When carefully analyzed, complex behaviors turn out to be learned. In humans, social motivations such as the Will to Power, are primary, thus Chitkka was motivated by : “…a challenge for me: Could we get our small-brained bees to solve tasks that would impress a bird cognition researcher?”

***

Einstein Bumblebees & Their Superstrings:

Now, it seems his team has succeeded in duplicating, with insects, what many birds and mammals are famous for. It shows that bumblebees can not only learn to pull a string to retrieve a reward, but they can also learn this trick from other bees, even though they have no experience with such a task in nature. Christian Rutz, a bird cognition specialist at St. Andrews university in Scotland concludes that the study “successfully challenges the notion that ‘big brains’ are necessary for new skills to spread”.  

Chittka and his colleagues set up a clear plastic table barely tall enough to lay three flat artificial blue flowers underneath. Each flower contained a well of sugar water in the center and had a string attached that extended beyond the table’s boundaries. The only way the bumble bee could get the sugar water was to pull the flower out from under the table by tugging on the string.

The team put 110 bumblebees, one at a time, next to the table to see what they would do. Some tugged at the strings and gave up, but two actually kept at it until they retrieved the sugar water: two Einstein bees out of 110! In another series of experiments, the researchers trained the bees by first placing the flower next to the bee and then moving it ever farther under the table. More than half of the 40 bees tested learned what to do with the strings. See: .Associative Mechanisms Allow for Social Learning and Cultural Transmission of String Pulling in an Insect.

Next, the researchers placed untrained bees behind a clear plastic wall so they could see the other bees retrieving the sugar water. More than 60% of the insects that watched knew to pull the string when it was their turn. In another experiment, scientists put bees that knew how to pull the string back into their colony and a majority of the colony’s workers picked up string pulling by watching one trained bee do it when it left the colony in search of food. The bees usually learned this trick after watching the trained bee five times, and sometimes even after one single observation. Even after the trained bee died, string pulling continued to spread among the colony’s younger workers.   

But pulling a string does not quite qualify as tool use, because a tool has to be an independent object that wasn’t attached to the flower in the first place. Yet other invertebrates have shown they can use tools: Digger wasps pick up small stones and use them to pack down their burrow entrances, for example.

***

Bees: New Aplysias For Intelligence & Culture?

Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, following a mentor of his in Paris, worked on the brain of the giant California sea snail, Aplysia Californica with its 26,000 neurons. This enabled to progress in the understanding of basic learning and memory mechanisms. However, Aplysias are not into tools and culture. Bees are. Bees have a million neurons, and a billion synapses.

[The bee brain is only .5 mm; whereas the human brain is ~ 400 larger, thus 4x 10^2 larger, its volume is thus ~ 10^2 x 10^6 = 10^8 larger than that of the bee brain; thus scaled up, with the same neuronal density, the human brain should have 10^14 neurons! Which is the number of synapses in the human brain. The density of the bee brain Thus we see, in passing, that human neurons pack up much more power than bee neurons! That has got to be a quantitative difference…]

The discovery of bee culture involved almost 300 bees, documenting how string pulling spread from bee to bee in multiple colonies. Cognitive studies of vertebrates like birds and monkeys typically involve smaller tribal units (30, not 300). Thus the bee studies on culture, more broadly based, show better propagation (at least at this point). .

Clearly bees are equipped, psychobiologically, for the meta behavior known as creative culture: learning from others, while experimenting on one’s own. Thinkers of old used to believe these behaviors were exclusively humans: animals were machines (Descartes) and only man used tools (Bergson, who called man ‘Homo Faber”, Homo Worker)

That insect can learn and experiment, and have culture was obvious all along, according to my personal observations of wasps’ intelligence: when I threaten a wasp. It gets the message, and flies away (I have done the experiment hundreds of times; it does not work with mosquitoes). Reciprocally, if I try to get a wasp out from behind a window, it somewhat cooperates, instead of attacking me. Whereas if I come next to a nest, I will be attacked when my intent is deemed aggressive (reciprocally if a nest is established in a high traffic area, the culture of the local wasps makes it so that they will not attack).   

What is the neural basis for these “smarts”? Some say that the insects might not be all that intelligent, but that instead, “these results may mean that culture-like phenomena might actually be based on relatively simple mechanisms.” Hope springs eternal that, somehow, human intelligence is different.

Don’t bet on it. Studying how bees think will help us find how, and why, we think. And the first conclusion is that it matters what we do with our brains. If we want to rise above insects, we cannot mentally behave as if we were insects all day long. Being endowed with human intelligence is not just an honor, but a moral duty. (Learn that, clown in chief!)

Patrice Ayme’

Reality Beats Fiction Always. Time to Learn This Again!

October 8, 2015

Let’s hope Angela Merkel gets the Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous stand to accept hundreds of thousands of war refugees. This is political dynamite, she handled it as well as possible, as a teacher of the highest values. A rare case of a Western “leader” displaying courage and creativity.

Meanwhile the Nobel in literature was given to reality. Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarussian journalist, born in Ukraine, a prose writer known for deeply researched works about female Russian soldiers in World War II and the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, won the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time,” the Swedish Academy announced. (The other day the Nobel was implicitly given to history, 23 centuries old. If they recognize history, the Nobel folks may as well recognize reality.)

Ms. Alexievich,67, 14th woman to win the literature prize, is a rarity: her sparse work is mainly nonfiction.

Work Makes Free: the Murderous Nazi Thieves’ Outrageous Slogan. The Reality of Nazism Ought To Have Beaten To Death The Soft Fiction Of Deluded Humanism

Work Makes Free: the Murderous Nazi Thieves’ Outrageous Slogan. The Reality of Nazism Ought To Have Beaten To Death The Soft Fiction Of Deluded Humanism

Yes, in World War Two, short in skilled personnel, the USSR used women in combat. Some even commanded tanks. And it’s mostly with tanks, better tanks, but maybe at the cost of twenty million soldiers killed in combat, that the Soviet Union beat Nazi Germany. I remember reading an Italian non-fiction book. After hard fighting in Ukraine, the author was stunned to see a beautiful Russian blonde dead in her punctured tank (not her tank top, her T34 tank). Take that, fiction authors! Where is your reality?

What’s literature? “Litera”, original Latin for “letter” came to mean ‘document’ and ‘letter, epistle’. “Literatura” is ‘writing formed with letters, book learning’. Nothing there said it has to be fiction. However in French literary circles, ‘literature’ has come to mean ‘fiction’. I view fiction as, mostly, an inferior sort. It is to reality what pornography is to sex. And not even that.

Any fiction is inspired by reality: after all, reality is where minds come from. However, confusing fiction with reality can be a trap. The authors of fiction who are known made their work marketable (otherwise they would not be known). But marketing is not enticing with thinking: it entices with seduction. Marketing perverts thinking, it’s sugar for canned minds.

And a canned mind, is not a kind mind. Or, more exactly, a canned mind is as good as the can it is in. Beware of cans, especially of the mental type: after a while, they turn bad, and fester with live toxins.

In contrast, by evoking reality, one can dare to go where the market does not want to go, and where the market cannot go. Facts are facts, they are not made to be comfortable. Facts are, all too often, not something one wants to buy. Why? Because we have turned into a society which confuses market and civilization. We ask, we tolerate to have the “markets” of everything and guide us.

It was high time the Nobel literature committee recognize that being able to present reality, especially reality in all its harshness, is more important than presenting someone’s fiction as if it were reality (as novelists are wont to do with wanton abandonment!) In one case, sticking to reality, one tries to stick to what is, and in the other, confusing reality and fiction, one admittedly do away with reality, at the outset, and replace reality with what can be sold to the little minds of the shoppers, avid and standardized.

Humanity has to be educated. This is what literature is for. Literature is not just intellectual masturbation. Too much sugar for too long makes one sick, and it’s a modern disease (one aspect is called diabetes, and kills, ages and degenerates its victims). Sugar drinks ought to be rejected. Similarly all too easy, all too comfortable fiction. Bring forth reality, the maker of worlds.

Considering reality, in full, is uncomfortable.

What do people foresee if the West Antarctic Ice Shield (WAIS), the Wilkes Basin and the Aurora Basin all collapse at the same time? Sea level may augment as fast as one meter per year.

I speculate: that’s 30 times faster than the most recent peer-reviewed scientific papers by specialists.

I speculate, but in full cognizance of striking elements of reality, catastrophes such as the sudden flooding of the Black Sea region, or flooding of the Mediterranean Basin, or the collapse of the Hudson Bay ice shield, or the Younger Dryas’ sudden collapse of the Gulf Stream current, and so on.

What I foresee is a quick adaptation of most values, as Homo Sapiens will present the largest biomass which one could possibly exploit. How quaint today’s fiction will then seem!

Knowing the world feeds the imagination. Knowing only fiction literature is getting to know only the minds of the fashionable and marketable, and how they learned to seduce the commons. Yet, reality is not common. The wise needs more: reality in full.

Patrice Ayme’

Neurons, Axons, Axioms

March 30, 2015

(Second Part of “Causality Explained”)

Axiomatic Systems Are Fragile:

Frege was one of the founders of mathematical logic and analytic philosophy. Frege wrote the Grundgesetze der Arithmetik [Basic Laws of Arithmetic], in three volumes. He published the first volume in 1894 (paying for it himself). Just before the second volume was going to press, in 1903, a young Bertrand Russell informed Frege of a dangerous contradiction, Russell’s paradox (a variant of the Cretan Liar Paradox). Frege was thrown in total confusion: a remedy he tried to apply reduced the number of objects his system could be applied to, to just ONE. Oops.

Frege was no dummy: he invented quantifiers (Second Order Logic, crucial to all of mathematics). It is just that logic can be pitiless.

If  Those Neurons Evolved Independently From Ours, Neurons Solve Thinking

If Those Neurons Evolved Independently From Ours, Neurons Solve Thinking

Neurons are (part of) the solution to the problem of thinking, a problem so deep, we cannot conceive of it. A second independent evolution of neuronicity would certainly prove that.

Truer Axiomatics Is Simpler, More Powerful:

Russell and Whitehead, colossal mathematicians and philosophers, decided to demonstrate 1 + 1 = 2. Without making “Cretan Liar” self-contradictions.

They wrote a book to do so. In the second volume, around page 200, they succeeded.

I prefer simpler axioms to get to 1 + 1 =2.

(Just define the right hand side with the left.)

It would be interesting that philsophers define what “causing” means, and what “causality” is, for us. Say with explicit examples.

I want to know what cause causes. It’s a bit like pondering what is is.

Some creatures paid as philosophers by employers know 17th century physics, something about billiards balls taught in first year undergraduate physics. (I know it well, I have taught it more than once.) Then they think they know science. All they know is Middle-Ages physics.

These first year undergraduates then to explain the entire world with the nail and hammer they know so well.

They never made it to Statistical Mechanics, Thermodynamics, etc. And the associated “Causality” of these realms of knowledge.

***

Axiomatics Of Causality With The Quantum:

How does “causality” work in the Quantum Mechanics we have?

You consider an experiment, analyze its eigenstates, set-up the corresponding Hilbert space, and then compute.

“Billiard Balls” is what seems to happen when the associated De Broglie wave has such high frequency that the eigenstates seem continuous.

So Classical Mechanical “causality” is an asymptote.

***

Know How To Dream… To Bring Up New Axiomatics

Human beings communicate digitally (words and their letters or ideograms), and through programs (aka languages, including logic and mathematics).

All of this used conventions, “rules”, truths I call axioms, to simplify… the language (this is not traditional, as many of these axioms have had names for 25 centuries).

So for example, I view the “modus ponens” (if P implies Q and P happens, then Q) as an axiom (instead of just a “logical form” or “rule of inference”).

The reason to call basic “logic forms” “axioms” is that they are more fragile than they look. One can do with, or without them. All sorts of non-classical logics do without the “excluded third law” (for example fuzzy set theory).

With such a semantic, one realizes that all great advances in understanding have to do with setting up more appropriate axioms.

***

Buridan’s Revolution, Or An Axiomatics Revolution:

In the Fourteenth Century, the intellectual movement launched by Buridan, included Oresme and the Oxford Calculators. They discovered inertia, momentum (“impetus”), graphs, the law of falling bodies, the heliocentric system (undistinguishable from the geocentric system, said Buridan, but we may as well stick to the latter, as it is in Scripture, said Buridan, wryly).

Buridan’s revolution is little known. But was no accident: Buridan refused to become a theologian, he stuck to the faculty of arts (so Buridan did not have to waste time in sterile debates with god cretins… differently from nearly all intellectuals of the time). Much of Buridan is still in untranslated Medieval Latin, that may explain it, after centuries of Catholic war against him.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Jean_Buridan.aspx

These breakthroughs were major, and consisted in a number of new axioms (now often attributed to Galileo, Descartes, Newton). The axioms had a tremendous psychological effect. At the time, Buridan, adviser to no less than four Kings, head of the University of Paris, was untouchable.

The philosopher cum mathematician, physicist and politician, died in 1360. In 1473, the pope and king Louis XI conspired to try to stop the blossoming Renaissance.

More than a century after his death, Buridan’s works, his new axioms, were made unlawful to read. (However Buridan was mandatory reading in Cracow, and Copernic re-published the work, as soon as he was safely ensconced within the safety of his death bed).

The mind, the brain, is quite fuzzy (in the sense of fuzzy set theory; the dreaming part; think of dendrites, prominences within synapses, starfish-like astrocytes, neurotransmitters, etc.). Axioms, and axons enable to code it digitally. So mathematization, and programmation are intrinsic human mental activities.

***

We Are All Theoretical Scientists Of The Mathematical Type:

Human beings continually draw consequences from the axioms they have, through the intermediary of giant systems of thought, and systems of mood (mentality for short).

When reality comes to drastically contradict expected consequences, mentality is modified, typically in the easiest way, with what I call an ANTI-IDEA.

For example when a number of physics Nobel laureates (Lenard, Stark) were anxious to rise in the Nazi Party, they had to reconcile the supposed inferiority of the Jews with the fact that Einstein was a Jew. They could not admit either that Poincare’ invented Relativity, as he was also of the most hated nation (and of the most anti-German fascism family in France!).

So they simply claimed that it was all “Jewish Science” (this way they did not have to wax lyrically about why they had collaborated with Einstein before anti-Judaism).

When brute force anti-ideas don’t work after all (as became clear to Germans in 1945), then a full re-organization of the axiomatics is in order.

An example, as I said, is fuzzy set theory. It violates the Excluded-Third Law.

But sometimes the reconsideration may be temporary. (Whether A and Non-A holds in the LOGIC of Quantum Mechanics, the Einstein-Schrodinger Cat, is a matter of heated debate.)

***

 Quantum Logic:,Both In & Out Of This World:

The removal of old logical axioms can be definitive. For example the Distributive Law of Propositional Calculus fails in Quantum Logic. That has to do with the Uncertainty Principle, a wave effect that would be etched in stone, were it not even more fundamental.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_logic

***

Verdict? Neurons, Axons, And Axioms Make One System:

We have been playing with axioms for millions of years: they reflect the hierarchical, axon dominated, neuron originated most basic structure of the nervous system.

Why?

Well, the neuronal-axonal skeleton of minds is probably the lowest energy solution to the problem of thinking in the appropriate space. It has just been proposed neurons evolved twice:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/20150325-did-neurons-evolve-twice/

We do not just think axiomatically, but we certainly communicate axiomatically, even with ourselves. And the axiomatics are dynamical. Thus causes learn to fit effects.

The fact this work is subjective, in part, does not mean it does not have to do with nature. Just the opposite: causality is nature answering the call of nature, with a flourish.

Human mentality is a continual dialogue between nature inside (Claude Bernard) and nature outside.

Changing axioms is hard work: it involves brain re-wiring. Not just connecting different neurons, but also probably modifying them inside.

Mathematicians have plenty of occasions to ponder what a proof (thus an explanation) is. The situation is worse than ever, with immense proofs only the author gets (Fermat’s Last Theorem was just an appetizer), or then computer-assisted proofs (nobody can check what happened, and it’s going to get worse with full Quantum Computers).

Not all and any reasoning is made to be understood by everybody. (Mathematicians have to use alien math they don’t really understand, quite often.)

Yes, thinking is hard. And not always nice. But somebody has to do it. Just remember this essence, when trying to communicate with the stars: hard, and not always nice.

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:

“Patrice, 

“…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%).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes

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’