Posts Tagged ‘Core Thought’

Why & How Humans Think

February 7, 2015

To answer why humans think is often conducive to find out how they think.

Human beings, when they think creatively, can think bottom up, or top down.

Most of the time, of course, humans do not bother to think creatively: they just learn by rote what they have heard, and sounds good to be integrated in the peer group that presents itself, or that they have chosen.

Bottom up thinking is thinking from practice: the hand makes the brain (even Heidegger figured that one out).

Animals Too Can Fight For Freedom Beyond What Most Humans Would Do

Animals Too Can Fight For Freedom Beyond What Most Humans Would Do

Top down thinking starts from axioms. It’s creative, but only if one makes one’s own axioms. It is intellectual fascism, if the axioms are given by fascist thought system (one animated by the Leader Principle).

We need guinea pigs to experiment on. The best subjects are those who think for a penny, the professors who grace academia. As their final product is supposed to be thinking, thinking they are supposed to exhibit.

They know this, so they try to hide, by drowning the fish in the water: a typical scientific, psycho, socio, medical or philosophical paper tends to use hermetic jargon, rich with a barrage of references, automatically obscure (by contrast, Einstein’s breakthrough papers had basically no references).

Our subject here is going to be Brian Key. In his essay “Why Fishes (likely) Do Not Feel Pain”.

Professor Key started, with axioms setting up the mood he wanted us to have: animals are machines; wolves’ behavior can be duplicated with computer programs, fishes don’t suffer pain, because they fight the hook, whereas clever mammals trapped, give up.

Pop ethology presents with silly axioms. Predators trapped by a leg have been known to chew it off.

Fish on a line do give up in the end, when they have no more will (although they still have some strength, as they flap around when brought on a boat and speared).

Brian Key claims one needs a cortex to suffer pain. Reptiles and birds have no cortex, and they suffer pain. http://www.wiringthebrain.com/2010/09/ancient-origins-of-cerebral-cortex.html

How did Brian’s brain get so silly? Because he reasoned top down that “it does not feel like anything to be a fish”, as he put it. So then he looked for structures in fish similar to those known to be associated to pain in humans.

Naturally, he did not find them. Birds have brains that are organized completely differently from ours, although our common ancestors are around 240 million years ago. Fishes, separated by another 200 million years more, are going to be even more mysterious.

The cortex is over-valued: conductivity modulation by glial cells occur along axons, for example. That means that “white matter” also “thinks”.

It has been notoriously difficult to find out how birds’ brains work. Still, some bird species score possibly higher in some mental ways than any primate, but man.

Generally, understanding life is difficult. It’s even impossible without Quantum Physics: a plant captures sunlight in one femtosecond. The rapport of a femtosecond to a second is the same at the rapport of one second to 31 million years. Crucially photosynthesis depends upon electrons being in many places, at the same time.

So, Brian, please, don’t tell me how it feels to be a fish. You don’t know. As many academics, you are more busy posing to advance your career. It’s OK, it helps, but it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Attributing to animal brains the same general purpose that our brains have is just common sense. It is not forming the world according to man (anthropo-morphizing). It is just the most natural explanation, the most economical one, too (“Ockham Razor”).

Telling us one can think of wolves differently, like machines, show a will to impel on us the mood to the notion that animals are machines. When human hunters go out after game, they use the same tactic, as described by Brian, not because we can think of them as simple computer program, but because it is the smartest strategy to follow.

Common sense is found in computer programs, written in wolf and human brains, or on paper, because sense is common.

And brains are into making sense. By the way, dear Brian, computer programs are written by humans, and, apparently, wolves. This is all you have demonstrated.

In “Diving Into Truth“, I pointed out that fishes known to be clever, groupers, are found to recruit complementary predators to hunt. Other fishes do this. The idea is to find a predator such as a Moray Eel to get in cracks and caves. The eel understands this, and the grouper makes a suggestive dance and mimic to get the eel into action.

Since I wrote the initial article linked above, other species of fish have been found to also suggest transpacific cooperation to fetch food.

Any trout fisher will tell you that old trouts are very smart. You can put the juiciest morsel in front of them, once they know it’s an ape who proposes dinner, they won’t bite.

Meanwhile, back from the Kremlin, Merkel faulted the Russians in Ukraine. Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko exhibited passport and military identification papers of Russian officers, “found inside Ukraine, killing Ukrainians”. The border was now “swarming with Russian tanks, armed personnel carriers, multiple rocket launchers and ammunition.” He added: “We find Russian officers, in tanks full of ammunition, who claim to be lost, one hundred kilometers from their border, killing Ukrainians.”

After the talks yesterday in Moscow that the French president and I had, it is uncertain if it will succeed, Merkel said, “but it is my view and the French president’s view [that it’s] definitely worth trying. We owe it to the people affected in Ukraine, at the very least.”

The French president had a less sanguine angle: “If we don’t find not just a compromise but a lasting peace agreement [accord de paix durable], we know perfectly well what the scenario will be. It has a name, it’s called war,” Hollande told journalists in his city of Tulle, in central France.

Putin backtracked right away, in full Hitlerian disingenuous style: “We don’t intend to war with anyone. We intend to cooperate with all.”

Wonderful. How and why we think is at its best, when survival is a stake.

Patrice Ayme’

PHILOSOPHY Defined

July 16, 2013

Philosophy, well done, was, and is, the sharp edge of human culture. All of it. A civilization is as healthy as its ruling philosophies. So, contrarily to repute, philosophy is more at the core of thought, and is more practical, than any other human activity. Indeed all humans use an effective philosophical theory (cheaply offered by frantic adoration of the son of the boSS in the USA; and his name was Jesus, although nobody ever saw his face).

First of all, philosophy is the method of searching ruthlessly for (some) truth in an uncertain world.

Many people who think of truth, think of science.

Xenophon, Founder of the Dismal Science

Xenophon, Founder of the Dismal Science

Science is only about establishing truths so certain that planes can fly, and computers can compute. Science is all about nearly certain truths (hence the unease about Quantum Mechanics, which is only sure about probabilities of things happening).

Outside of the tiny realm of science, most truths are not that certain. (See the note on “Fuzzy Logic” and “Quantum Logic”.)

Philosophy is also the attitude of putting one’s brain in a state that puts investigating all and any truth high enough relative to normal values, that it happens only exceptionally to common people (thus Socrates, a bit carried away, claimed that the proper mood of man was to feel that the “unexamined life was not worth living”, an admission, or confession, that many emotional dimensions escaped him; thus Socrates had major pieces missing in his mental machinery, making him an unlikely contender as the philosopher par excellence!).

Philosophy, per necessity, investigates of how fuzzy perception, indistinct knowledge, and unimaginable worlds could be researched. Creative philosophy, well done, is guessing writ large, and in dimensions never imagined before.

In that sense, philosophy covers deep, creative, investigations in all fields, from possible logics to the meaning of surrendering to pleasure. Thus many philosophers founded many fields: Aristotle, biology (although the philosopher and scientist Lamarck named it). Xenophon, economics. Buridan, modern mechanics and the heliocentric system. Descartes, analysis. Less well known, Bruno and Kant did serious work on extraterrestrial, or even extragalactic considerations. Science is a flower rooted in philosophy.

Philosophy is about finding, or guessing, what reality is, or could be. To do this using all available methods, neurobiological or not, existing, or yet to be created by the imagination. New philosophy, when it is created, does not just use the methods of extant science, mathematics, technology, society and even poetry. instead, it creates, or guesses, new ones.

Some say philosophy ought to focus on living life well. Sure. However, to do so, one first has to determine what reality is. So we are back to examining.

Examination, critique, make one weight systematically the positives and the negatives in a spirit of equality. In some countries tradition insists that the proper mood ought to manage only the positives; this happens in the USA and Asia, for example. There people are more interested in speaking of the positive sides of life instead of about what’s wrong. That makes individuals much less eager to share their inner qualms and honest opinions. This is no way to get to truth.

In literalist Islam, “al-Taqiyya” dissimulation, concealing or disguising one’s beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies is made into a religious command when dealing with enemies (in a half dozen verses of the Qur’an). That, too is hostile to philosophy.

Dozens of famous philosophers, starting with Socrates, defended philosophy rather than their lives or comfort. Descartes, for example, fled to the Netherlands. Bruno was burned alive (by the Vatican). More recently several French philosophers were tortured and executed by the Nazis.

French civilization was founded by the Franks (who somehow changed, and improved the mood of the 97% of the Gallo-Roman population that was not Frank). Roger Cohen in “France’s Glorious Malaise” pointed out that: “Far from morose, the French attitude has a bracing frankness.” Frankness was always the defining character of the Franks, as indicated by their name.

Frankness is why the Franks refused, alone among the Germans, to become Christians for two full centuries (although Frankish generals were breathing down Roman emperors’ necks). They frankly disagreed with the Christian madness. (When they became Catholics, that was on their own terms, as they made their own leaders bishops, in their own special way!)

Frankness is the emotional core of the attitude that creates science, technology, or philosophy. Finding the truth, exposing and revering it as if it ruled, is the core principle of Western civilization (and was sorely missing in Rome: exposing truth in Roman science would have led to expose the truth of Roman plutocracy, namely, the deification of related criminal idiots.)

In any case, philosophy can influence the national character, and reciprocally.

Philosophy systematically focuses on creative interpretations of one-time events (whereas science tends to use mostly certain, that means, repeatable facts; science can use one-time events; for example the crash of an asteroid in Siberia, although a one-time event, is shaking a lot of established science). Once again, too optimistic (or too pessimistic, or too fatalistic) an attitude can skew the selection of these one-time events.

The philosophical method is not science, but it is how revolutionary science has always blossomed, and always will. The mark of the greatest scientists and mathematicians has always been, and will always be, that some of their work can be viewed as philosophical.

For example Newton casually declared that his own gravitation theory, with an instantaneous force at a distance, was so counter-intuitive on that point, that it could only be false; I have the same objection with the entanglement at a distance interaction in Quantum Physics; both Newton’s, and my, objection are grounded in a philosophical reasoning. (See Note.)

Thus scientists hostile to philosophy do not understand the birth of their own field of expertise. All and any serious scientific progress was born from philosophical methodology.

(There are many philosophy haters in a very loud field, High Energy Physics. That sounds strange, until one realizes that some practitioners of  this field of expertise have to take themselves for God, since much of QFT makes no sense whatsoever, and only Jihadist like certainty can make them forget that.)

Nor do philosophers hostile to science understand the aim of the philosophical method, which is science. Even if it’s simply the prosaic science of how to lead the best possible life.

Science shattered so much old philosophical errors, that, to this day, most thinkers do not seem to realize how revolutionary established fundamental science is. That’s one of the points I made in the essay “Revolutionary Science”.

Someone’s philosopher can be someone else’s devil. Kant, for example, was used massively by the Nazis to justify their blind obedience to order (Kant, like Confucius or Mencius, or the Qur’an made obeying blindly orders from above a basic moral principle).

Philosophy is a method, using whatever to get to truth. But it’s also a set of knowledge, fake or not. Debatable always. Naturally enough, the human species evolved into that method. The only difference between Philosophy with a capital P and common sense, is that the former is applied to questions esoteric enough to bring forth new ideas, and new emotions.

In any case, philosophy is, first of all, the ultimate quest for truth.

Philosophy, the ultimate quest for, and by, the essence of man, truth mastering reality, kneading it into making one’s bed really more comfortable is not just what made us, but what we are made from.

***

Patrice Ayme

***

Truth more or less true? Well there is full logical, mathematical and physical back-up behind this statement.

Fuzzy Valued Logic (name from 1965) was studied since the 1920s (notably by Łukasiewicz & Tarski) as infinite-valued logics. In it, propositions are more or less true. Interestingly, Quantum Logic is similar, but more general, as the values of reality are not real, but complex numbers (the set of Complex numbers, C, is made of pairs of real numbers; C = R + iR, where ii = -1, and R is the set of Real numbers; it’s the largest commutative field.).

No Public, No Brains, Crash

July 9, 2013

CRASHES (Examples: ROME, AFGHANISTAN) CAUSED BY LACK OF PUBLIC INPUT:

Abstract; Having a republic (“public thing”) is not just nicer to the public, in everyday life, it’s also a military advantage, when war comes.  The important concept here is the notion of “public”. Rome crashed militarily from too much fascism, for too long and for no good reason, bringing the dreadful consequence of lack of public support, let alone input.

The USA stealth war in Afghanistan (1979-2013) and the rise of the USA as a surveillance state were engaged secretly and pursued without public debate. Thus no real public support, or intelligence. Time to cut the secrecy, and bring back the public. If one does not want to kiss the republic goodbye, that is.

***

When the fall of Rome is evoked, old fashion historians focus on military events at the end of the Fourth and beginning of the Fifth Century. Or they brandish hundreds of entangled causes of decay. Superficially the empire cracked because:

Adrianople: Fascism Is From One Mind, & If An Idiot, Toast

Adrianople: Fascism Is From One Mind, & If An Idiot, Toast

The military crash of Rome blossomed at the Battle of Hadrianopolis, August 9, 378 CE, when the Gothic cavalry decisively annihilated  the extremely experienced Oriental Roman field army (including the emperor Valens, single-minded author of the disaster).

(Although the mysterious defeat and death of Augustus Julian in Mesopotamia (earlier, in 363 CE) was more fateful.)

The disaster at Hadrianopolis/Adrianople was a near fatal blow to the prestige, military, economy and tax base of the core of the empire. The empire was unable to recover for a number of reasons. In particular because plutocrats were too mighty to be taxed.

In 400 CE, the legions were ordered out of Britain and the Rhine Frontier. The Franks, shock troops and nation “infeodated” (under treaty and oath) to the empire were left in charge. Instead of having the defense of the empire staying a public thing, it was subcontracted!

However, during the winter solstice of 406 CE, the Rhine froze over, and an enormous coalition of savage Germanic nations charged through Gallia and Hispania, all the way to Africa (in the case of the Vandals).

That was the fatal blow to the Western empire, the “Occidental Part”. Population and economy collapsed. The Vandals, from their African redoubt, established an empire that reigned on the Western Mediterranean, cutting the grain trade, starving Italy, shutting down international trade, etc.

The Goths seized Rome four years later (410 CE). A century later, the Franks, in a full consultation with the Consul Anastasius (who reigned in Constantinople as Augustus for 27 years until his death at age 88), would finally destroy the Goths at the Battle of Vouillé, in 507 CE. Rome, that is, Constantinople, then made Clovis Consul.

Real Man: Clovis Killed King Alaric Himself

Real Man: Clovis Killed King Alaric Himself

Thus 101 years exactly after the savages broke through, the Romans (aka the Franks) turned things around militarily at last. True, they had been busy meanwhile, destroying the cause of all that turmoil, the Huns (who had pushed the Goths and other Germans west, to start with).

Vouillé had avenged Hadrianopolis. 129 years later. History can unfold slowly, although it goes faster these days.

But the most interesting question is what happened at Hadrianopolis.

And, even more fascinating, why did it happen?  Roughly, the defeat happened because the Roman system was fascist, with one single jealous man at the top. The intelligence of the collective was reduced to the intelligence of one.

Actually it was a bit more subtle: the top emperor, Valens, was jealous of the success of one of the top generals, Sebastian, who had defeated some Goths, and of his nephew, the young Gratian, emperor in Occident, who had also defeated fierce enemies, the Alamani (the Franks would finally destroy those “All Men” two centuries later).

Valens wanted his own victory. Although everybody in the Roman military structure, including the officers in his own field army, and the Frank Richomeres, head of Gratian’s guard, told him to wait for Gratian’s army, which was only 400 kilometers away. So Valens marched his army ferociously for 7 hours over difficult terrain in full sun, and when thoroughly exhausted and dehydrated, engaged battle, without even knowing where the redoubtable Gothic cavalry was.

One man had taken all the decisions, all the wrong decisions. The one-man-alone-in-command factor was the fundamental cause of the defeat.

One can compare with two other spectacular defeats, this time the defeat of famous Republics. At Cannae an enormous Roman army was annihilated by Hannibal. What happened? The Romans fell into a trap: Hannibal retreated to give the Roman center an illusion of victory, drawing it in, and then enveloping the entire Roman body with cavalry, squeezing it, similarly to what would happen, six centuries later, at Hadrianopolis.

At Cannae, the Roman army was unwise, imprudent, outsmarted. However the army was not engaged in a march of obvious idiocy because of one man’s folly, as it would be at Adrianople. If it had been, that would have been stopped right away (as happened say when the French army tried to defeat the Brits in Toulon; as France was a republic, Napoleon, then just a captain, was able to contest the strategy of his superiors, was supported by politicians, and won a great victory).

The same hold for the defeat of France in May 1940. Just like Hannibal at Cannae, but on a much grander scale, Hitler and his generals, thoroughly desperate to start with, decided to be lucky, as that was the only thing that could save them. It did. They conceived the phantasmagoric plan to draw in the army of the Republic, by smartly attacking the Netherlands first.

Just as the Romans at Cannae and Hadrianopolis, sure of victory, the French rushed in their elite armor and armies forward. Then the Nazis, undetected thanks to Lady Luck, and how crazy their strategy was, cut them from behind.

So the difference is subtle. It’s a question of degree. The mind of one, versus the mind of the many. At Hadrianopolis, the orders given to the army were outright insane. All top military officers begged emperor Valens to reconsider. He refused, because he could, being the head fascist. But his head was no good. It was permeated by Christianity, that is, superstition.

At Cannae and the Battle of France, the armies of the Republics, blinded by hubris, confronted adversaries who were desperate, in all logic, and thus could only try to be lucky. And they were.

Then, of course, luck carries only that far against the intelligence and character that a superior public brings. Rome took seventeen years to defeat Carthage (218 BCE-201 BCE), the French republic, thanks to its reluctant, or even initially hostile, but finally enthusiastic allies, six years to annihilate the Nazis.

Conclusion? War is always the most serious business. One has always to be ready for the worst. Hubris ought not to be invited. And the public is both the brains and hearts of war.

The USA started the war in Afghanistan by 1979, under Carter, to block the Afghans, Russians and… despised French to exploit the resources in Central Asia without profits for Washington/Wall Street, and to show all who was the boss (Brzezinski claimed it was just to destroy the USSR, but he is dissembling).

At the same time, to make war by proxy, the USA decided that Pakistan’s dirty work in Afghanistan was best complemented by others. So Washington recruited Bin Laden and other fanatics, in cooperation and collaboration with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and its collaborator and enemy, the Saudi Inter Service directorate (notice all these people are alive and well).

That attack on Afghanistan was hubristic, greedy, full of imperial overstrech. Those adjectives count as three moral negatives. In Afghanistan, the USA had, at best, only one (fake) moral positive: namely the specious, devious argument that their rogue mercenary Bin Laden had attacked from there. (Yeah, and who made Bin Laden into a soldier of god, and armed him, to start with?)

Perhaps the most important asset in a long war, is moral superiority. Morality is the extension of war to the realm of the possible.

Moral superiority is why, ultimately, the Republics won against the fascists Hannibal and Hitler. Or why, ultimately, the Franks defeated the Goths (the Franks were tolerant, inclusive, more civilized, and supportive of the 97%; not so with the Arian, exclusive Goths).

Reciprocally, lack of Roman moral superiority is why the Romans were defeated by the Goths (both sides were Christian; but the Goths had made a peace proposition that was advantageous to Rome, and that Valens rejected hubristically).

A fourth moral negative in Afghanistan is that the USA made a cynical usage of a primitive superstition, precisely because it was primitive, hateful, and illogical. Right from the start, in 1979, the USA fought to establish, or re-establish, fundamental Islam in Afghanistan (as the USA had done in Iran, or Pakistan, let alone Saudi Arabia or Egypt).

Once again the prominent tactic was that superstitious people can be easily manipulated, as the CIA had done in Iran, by instrumentalizing the Shiites against PM Mosaddegh (culprit of oil nationalization, and general insolence). However, Afghanistan, as a republic, and the benign monarchy before that,  had been pretty much free of superstition and at peace, so the USA strived to re-impose, twice, on Afghanistan a fascist, sexist interpretation of Islam.

This is no way to win a war. Morality cannot foster, or tolerate, big contradictions. As it is, the West has nothing much to defend in the Islamist republic of Afghanistan. Best to negotiate directly with the Taliban. Or, barring that, to just withdraw.

One lesson of the Roman military collapse, was too much energy was spent fighting war in the Middle East without enough overall civilizational superiority to win once and for all. All this energy playing military Sisyphus was as much energy that was not spent on the crucial frontiers: the Balkans, and, especially, the Rhine-Danube gap. Or reacquiring civilizational superiority.

Instead, what we presently observe is that the USA is turning stealthily into a military regime, complete with secret supreme court of surveillance and secret laws. How can one have secret laws in a res PUBLICA? Are not laws the architecture? Are they not public, by definition, in a republic?

It’s time to stop that drift. Obama should yank the USA out of Afghanistan, after making to the Taliban an offer it can’t refuse. He should also remember that Rome rotted from inside first. The more secret the rot, the worst the gangrene. Industrial strength secrecy has no place in a Re-PUBLIC. Moral force is domineering for wars, and the survival of civilization, in the fullness of time.

History is not just complex. It has meta-layers of complexity, as psychology does, and because psychology does, on the grandest scale. Those who do not want to learn from history, do not want to learn from psychology.

***

 

Patrice Ayme

NO LOVE, NO MIND

August 21, 2012

LOVE IS ALL ABOUT MIND MELDING…

And Mind Melding Is What Makes Us Possible.

The question has long been asked: what is love, where does it come from? But the real question is: what is man, where does it come from? And the answer is love.

I do not allude here to the silly confusion between love and sex called, rather pathetically, “making love”. At best, it has to do with the amplification oxytocin provides with, and it’s a sideshow; fishes do it.

Love in full is parental love, mammalian style.  

That does involve oxytocin (and vasopressin), sure. But love, in advanced species, goes well beyond chemistry, or biology. It involves intelligence, logic itself. The chemical intervenes just to amplify, and stabilize, the logical. And it is pretty obvious why.

Homo Sapiens Sapiens is the official name of the species. Sapiens Sapiens: Wise Wise. Where does all that wisdom comes from? Love. Facts are mostly learned. Logic is learned, like anything else. Wisdom is learned, even more than anything else.

And how was most of this learning achieved? From others, and for others. What motivated the teachers, the parents? Love. What mostly motivated those who learned? Love.

What one learns depends upon one’s environment. Famous experiences from  the 1970s have shown that kittens brought up in an unnatural visual environment do not see properly. Their visual neurons are abnormal. Kittens reared in a world of vertical lines do not have any neuron responding to anything within 30 degrees of the horizontal. (They need 5 months in a normal environment to start to see what is horizontal!)

In other words, neurobiology is made from what’s out there (the idea is at least as old as Ramon y Cajal, the Spanish discoverer of neurons, a century ago).

This generalizes to many mental behaviors, and much mental infrastructure. True, one can learn logic, octopus style, by making little experiments at the bottom of the sea. But that carries only that far.

Interacting with the material world does not teach high level Machiavellianism, the gist of social intelligence. And indeed, although cephalopods are intelligent, they have not developed high social intelligence as, say, whales or primates. (Although cephalopods are very social, their lives are very short, they just don’t have the time to be taught by fellow cephalopods; an aspect of the connection between longevity and wisdom; so their brain/body mass ratio is between cold and warm blooded animals; it’s also probably why their brains did not grow much in the last 400 million years, whereas warm blooded social animals are launched in a brain size race).

To see with one’s heart, to have a heart that can see, one needs to be exposed to all the emotional lines imaginable. Otherwise, just as neurons reading horizontal lines do not appear in a world of vertical lines, so will it be with emotions, or other stimuli. Presenting a growing mind with a mutilated world fabricates a mutilated neurobiology.

The mutilated world can be physically mutilated, as with the cats with an amputated visual environment. But if the mental environment is emotionally, logically or experientally mutilated, it’s the same, and it’s worse in humans. For example the chidren of abused people tend to become themselves abusers.

One thing man did when selecting dogs was to evolve animals who are eager to find out the cues that human eyes indicate. In other words, animals eager to meld minds. This is reinforced by an expectation of love, which is necessary as most wild animals interpret direct eye contact as proximal to attack.

High social intelligence is taught by love, for love, through love. High social intelligence makes very complex, caring societies possible. But not just that. It makes technology and science possible.

How? High social intelligence involves Machiavellian Intelligence. Machiavellian Intelligence is, basically, and in its most general sense, the ability to compute with love (real, fake, suspected, or suspicious).

Machiavellian intelligence rests upon, and demonstrates, all day long, that infinitesimal causes, properly piled up, can have enormous effects. This is the hint, the motivation, the inspiration, that entices to create logic, science and technology, thus the human universe, possible. Man without logic, science and technology is nothing. Man simply cannot even survive in nature without technology, ever since stone weapons have been wielded.

I claim that Homo’s social subtlety was the paradigm for science.

Indeed, that infinitesimal causes, properly piled up, can have enormous effects, is the gist of infinitesimal and integral calculus, and the principle on which experimental and theoretical sciences rest: from the apparently neglectable, experimentally or logically, the essence springs forth. (An example is that if one contradiction arises in a logical system, the whole thing is invalidated.)

What we call love is the sensation we experience when our mind is working properly, that is, socially enough to learn most of what it knows from society (as it is congenitally programmed to do).

Love is about mind melding. Love is what makes mind melding possible. Culture is one aspect of mind melding. So is one’s entire emotional system.

To say that love brings the oxytocin up, explains how attachment is amplified, but it does not explain why attachment happens.

Attachment happens, and it is so strong, because minds are mostly programmed by the environment provided to them. OK, in the case of cephalopods the sea itself can provide much. In the case of social insects, a few simple behaviors are easily produced.

But advanced brainy animals have much more sophisticated behaviors. And only that very sophisticated environment called love can provide it.

Our brains have reward centers all over. My guess is that they are set-up so that enriching input from another mind is most appreciated, once basic physiological needs are satisfied.

Without love we would be nothing much. We would not even know how to see or think in a human way. And certainly we would not know how to feel correctly. Most of these behaviors are learned… from the loving environment provided by caregivers. And they are socially learned, and they can only be socially learned because our care givers were motivated to do their job well, by that particular organization of neurobiology found in advanced brains that we call love.

Thus there is symmetry breaking between the Good Lord and the Dark Side. The Good Lord, Love, makes us possible. Love is our ground state (to use the Quantum analogy). The Dark Side is just something that is sometimes necessary.

Hence a polity should not rest too much on the Dark Side: it’s not our creator. This is the fundamental reason that makes plutocratic or cannibalistic societies so little creative that they always meet an ominous fate, in short order. And also why they contributed so little to civilization.

This philosophical observation has a strong bearing on politics. It means that society has to be built on love first, not profit, or an ill defined “market”. It means that the economic set-ups based on exploitation strategies (that brought us Anglo-Saxon empires and Russia) are suspect.

This is something the Roman Republic, tough as nail, had understood perfectly well. It was built mostly defensively, around the idea that the simplest version of love inside the Republic was the ground state. They called it the law. And thus endures the Roman Republic to this day, at least in the spirit of our laws.

It also means that any other sentient species, long ago, in a galaxy far away, would also have been built first, out of love… At least for itself. Culture is impossible without a cultivator. And why to cultivate minds, if not out of love?

We love, we have been loved, therefore we think.

***

Patrice Ayme

Science Rests On The Masses, Not Just Giants.

April 5, 2012

WISDOM BLOSSOMS FROM COMMON SENSE ON STEROIDS, LET IT BE SCRUTINIZED.

***

It turns out that the OPERA “observation” of Faster Than Light neutrinos seems to have been caused by a not-fully-screwed-on right optical cable.

(It’s fascinating that the pitfall had not been detected earlier: because we use electronic computers, not photonic computers, information down an optical cable has to be transformed into electrons, and, because we are still at a gross point of technology, that means plenty of optical energy has to ramp up, until enough electrons can be excited, and generate a signal. If screwing is not right, the ramping up of power takes longer… Hence the infamous delay!)

Too bad. But let’s not forget we have neutrinos from a supernova that arrived several hours before the photons. However, that’s explained by supernova explosion theory: as the explosion proceeds, light gets bottled inside star material for a while, whereas the neutrinos of the intense thermonuclear explosion involving heavy elements rush out; in the sun, thermonuclear photons take hundreds of thousands of year to get out of the thermonuclear region, in the core, where they are produced. So it looks as if I will have to hold my faster than light horses a while back longer. Yet, Einstein’s own theory of gravitation, especially when cosmologically modified, means that the speed of light is all too relative…

(Physics) Professor Matts Strassler asks on his (excellent) blog, http://profmattstrassler.com/ a “Question to Laypersons: Your Views on the Neutrino Saga.”

This was the occasion for me to roll a few of my pet themes. (I have to relax with rather innocent considerations as I prepare an essay bound to make me many new friends, where I compare Arabized regimes to Vichy style regimes, just worse, that have perdured, for more than 13 centuries…)

“Prof” Strassler “would like to ask YOU a question or two.  And by “you”, I mean non-scientists.  I would like to know how seeing this episode unfold changed (or did not change) your view of science, or physics, or particle physics…  Are you disappointed in or pleased with the scientific process as you saw it unfold?  Are you more suspicious of or less suspicious of scientists and/or of science now that you’ve seen this happen? I think these are things that many scientists would be curious to learn.”

I commented this way: Don’t we all know quite a bit of science? … Say relative to, hmmm, Newton? We are living in a scientific society, whether we admit it or not.

By the time of Newton it was not know that there was such a thing as oxygen, it supported life, and oxidized stuff. That was a century after Newton’s apogee. Many a commoner not having formally studied science out of high school could reconstitute Lavoisier’s experiments nowadays.

Similarly for Pasteur’s experiences on spontaneous generation or… pasteurization.  And the idea of vaccination, formalized by Pasteur is also well known. As is continental drift.

You can go in the middle of Africa, meet a woman who does not know how to read, but she may well known Pasteurization… and why.

The basic ideas of the Quantum are less well known, true.

However this is partly the result of an anti-French bias, because the luminously simple idea of the French medievalist, prince de Broglie, is not taught, and, instead, Germano-Nazi physicists, such as Heisenberg, with their appropriately dark mumblings, are always evoked by those perhaps nostalgic of the Aryan, anti-French order… But I digress… As far as I am concerned, just like Einstein sucked Poincare’ dry, so did Heisenberg and Schrodinger with De Broglie (not to say they were not great scientists; just smaller, with smaller ideas; thus erroneously teaching the small for great has real consequences on… mass science, the science the masses know!)

But let’s go back to the ideas of Prof Strassler, which are shared with many scientists, namely that they stand on the shoulders of giants just like themselves, as they are a race of giants.

That’s how this fool of Chu got into supporting stupid (and intrinsically corrupt!) enterprises such as Tesla (465 million dollars of taxpayer money, so that Silicon Valley plutocrats can drive an electric sport car made in France, powered by glued up together laptop batteries; or Solyndra, more than half a billion from the taxpayers, for a tech that was obviously not going to work). OK, Chu, the energy secretary, has a Nobel in Physics, but that just means he was part and parcel of some intelligent project, and that he may have had, personally an intelligent moment.

But diligent a lot, and intelligent, once, does not mean diligent always, and intelligent always. Certainly not, especially if one suddenly imagines one belongs to a race of giants.

For more context on the preceding, see the New Republic (January 25, 2012):

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/magazine/100037/steven-chu-energy-obama-solyndra?page=0,0

What did I want Chu to do? Instead of playing Venture Capitalist with 25 billion dollars, just fund fundamental research, make sure you can persuade people energy taxes have to be risen,  make sure solar plants go up in the high altitude desert south west USA, and that very high speed train lines, in the North East and California get build.

On the latter there was an interesting development: those geniuses realized that in France Very High Speed trains mostly use conventional lines (one can use conventional methods with trains up to 125 mph, 200 km/h). By doing same as the French, the cost of Very High Speed rail in California crumbled down to 60 billion dollars, and still only 3 hours downtown San Francisco to downtown LA… roughly the time to go to the airport and pass security. Morality; go to Europe, and learn.

The expression “layperson” is shared by many a scientist, mathematician, and university type. Maybe not verbally, but certainly conceptually. However, that’s an error.

Indeed the expression “layperson” hints that scientists are some sort of priests. It reminds me of a short story of Isaac Asimov, where civilization has devolved, and, on a planet with multiple suns, the rabble hunts the few remaining astronomers, when an exceptional night occurs.

I also wonder what defines a “scientist”? A scientific degree? But what is really so special in common between a paleontologist and a mathematician? OK, mathematicians maybe do not qualify as scientists? But then a lot of theoretical physics, on the edge, is little else than mathematics gone so wild that even mathematicians avert their eyes (until it works, then they come to make it appear they invented it themselves…)

Something else: a lot of, say, cosmology is a magnificent razzle-dazzle show in full view of “laypersons”. However, a lot of the certainty there seems to have an OPERAtic component: bold assertions, not all the details in for sure (I am alluding, say, to cosmic inflation).

One thing scientists ought to remember is that scientific research is one thing, science itself, that is, certain knowledge that is indeed certain, is something else. It would be good to teach that to the public too, as it would help it learn to search for truth, and not to confuse inquiry with certainty.

Science is just the result of observant and sophisticated common sense. One sees both faling, increasingly, in the USA. A good indicator of that are the “Stand Your Ground” laws in the USA. Those allow any brute carrying a concealed weapon to assassinate anybody who gets in their way, as long as they can build a half way plausible story about the ground on which they stand. In particular if they don’t like the race of their victim.

As far as the gun lobby and the plutocratic lobby are concerned, it’s perfect. Marie Antoinette, being told people ran out of bread, supposedly quipped:”Let them eat cake!” (actually brioche, a viennoiserie, a type of pastry made where she came from!) As far as the gun lobby and the plutocratic lobby are concerned, it’s :”Let them eat lead!” Better: let them serve it, to each other.

That average Americans fell for such a divisive tactic is a testimony to not knowing anymore what common sense is. Something studying carefully the genesis of science can remedy. That is precisely while plutocrats hid behind theocrats to forbid the teaching of critical thinking. For teaching critical thinking, one cannot just teach literary criticism. Because it’s harder to show error, for certain in literature, or even philosophy.

In science, and science history, it’s much more clear cut. Both the truth, and the errors (and why the later happen, itself a type of meta knowledge).  

More generally, the most important subject of study at school ought to be the history of big ideas, big errors, vast delusions, and immense progress. Our civilization surfs on a tsunami of thoughts.

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Patrice Ayme