Posts Tagged ‘Plus Oultre’

Solstice Song

December 25, 2015

So this is the Solstice,

And what have we done,

We, the civilization of Humanity,

The only one there is,

Our Earth, her Moon, our biosphere,

Once more around the Sun: another year over, a new one just begun.

In this dark universe, we have brought our lights, our lonely lights,

Gentler than all others, peering through the night,

Dark Universe, Enlightening Humanity. Light of Moon, Enlightenment of Thinking, Throwing Light On A Fragile Future That Better Be Human

Dark Universe, Enlightening Humanity. Light of Moon, Enlightenment of Thinking, Throwing Light On A Fragile Future That Better Be Human

To our Moon, we may owe our life, the Enlightenment of Humanity, the snows of temperate climate, which helped.

Merry Christmas, Roman Saturnials, Celtic Yule,

Our northern ancestors celebrated that birth of the year, ever since they created edible plants, and took care of them,

Eons ago,

Well before their words could come to us.

I hope you have fun,

The far and the dear one, the old and the young,

A very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year,

Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear,

To use your minds as much as,

This civilization needs to keep on going,

Minimizing pain, maximixing love.

And so this is Christmas,

Verily We are the Anointed Ones.

For weak and for strong, for rich poor alike

The world is so wrong, yet so right.

No doubt a heavy, confusing, exhilarating,

Cross for us to bear,

No need to go the gym,

Exercising our minds is plenty.

And so happy Christmas,

For black and for white, for yellow and red ones,

Let’s stop all the fighting, which brought nothing good

And start those Jihads we really need,

Smartly discarding those we don’t.

A Happy New Year, let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear, to assume what we are,

Anointed to pursue,

Thought in the universe.

We hope you have fun

The near and the dear one, the old and the young,

A very Merry Christmas, a happy new year, let’s hope it’s a good one.

Those wars we don’t need are over, if you want it,

New wars have begun, which we really need,

Just to save our biosphere, our sanity, our civilization.

Merry Christmas:

It’s not a question of never more wars over the horizon,

It’s a question of how we fight, and why.

Humanity never rests,

Thinking is a debate,

Debate is combat,

Humanity means ever more dashing,

Incomprehensible, yet enlightening thoughts,

Where gods never threaded before,

Made obvious for all to see.

Humanity means ever more science, and fiction,

Humanity means going to Mars,

And well beyond, Plus Oultre, as Charles V put it,

Humanity means going thermonuclear,

Humanity means never aging,

Humanity means ever anew,

Thinking through everything.

Humanity means never any return of the same,

Humanity means there is no horizon,

But for the next one,

And the one after that.

Humanity means love for us shall lead us,

Ever after.

So enjoy,

Enjoy your Earth and her Moon, ever rotating around their Sun.

Life has been an ever-changing journey,

Ever since it started to evolve, more than four billion years ago,

Ever faster,

Ever more potent,

The greatest change is upon us now,

Life, thought,

Will blossom across the galaxy,

They have to, just to survive,

And we are in charge,

So happy Solstice,

We are going to need ever more happiness,

To conquer all,

Starting with ourselves.

Patrice Ayme’

Humans: Naturally Born Scientists

June 5, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

We Have Been Scientists, All Along, Ever More

We Have Been Scientists, All Along, Ever More

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

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

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

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

And so on:

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

Then there are so-called “scientific” theories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Subtleties:

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

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

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

Thus:

Science is what we know for sure:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SCIENCE IS US.

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21652258-children-exposed-several-languages-are-better-seeing-through-others-eyes-do

Here is an abstract of the research:

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

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

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

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

Patrice Ayme’

Fascism As Esthetics: Celebritism

June 25, 2014

CELEBRITIES ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM TO BE

Apparently bitten by the critique that he spends his time pleasing the enemy, Paul Krugman, insists that he is no crude man. In an apparently unrelated situation, hedge fund billionaire Milner a Multiverse fanatic, has attributed his enormous three million dollar prize in mathematics and biology.

What’s the connection? Celebritism. Krugman is afraid to contradict celebrities, Milner is anxious to spread celebritism to (some) top scientists. Celebritism is the sugar around the bitter pill of oligarchism.

Spain's Motto [Alcatraz]. Want Progress? Plus Oultre!

Spain’s Motto [Alcatraz].
Want Progress? Plus Oultre!

Krugman: Jared Bernstein agonizes over the role of wonkish analysis (which spell-check keeps trying to change to “monkish”) in a political environment in which “facts and smart policy are on the run.” It’s something I worry about too.

On one side, if wonks don’t point out what we really should be doing, who will?…

On the other hand, if wonks only propose things that won’t happen, what good are they?”

It seems that Krugman does not understand that, where there is a will, there is a way. Reciprocally, if there is no will, there is no way. To propose strategies that could, and ought, be willed, eschews him.

Indeed  the case for real progress has to be made stridently, and repeatedly. Indeed Obamacare is much better than a hard vacuum, but now it’s the law, so really drastic progress ought to be proposed instead of crowing constantly about how good Obamacare is. If I want to hear crows, I go on a walk. Even Obama wants people such as Krugman to push for the right ideas.

Whereas “politics is the teaching of the possible” (Die Politik ist die Lehre vom Möglichen; Otto Von Bismarck, author of Universal Health Care in the Kaiserreich, 1883 CE), the art of the critic ought to be to present strongly what ought to be willed. Critics are not in charge of sausage making… (See Note on the “art of the next best“.)

By just presenting to the masses what is OK with the Tea Party, one becomes Tea Party. When the democrats were in total control in the first few weeks of Obama’s first ascent, they made constantly the Tea Party case, showing their true nature (somewhat on the right of Hank Paulson, who had to go on his knees just a few weeks earlier to persuade Nancy the Plutocrat Pelosi to save the economic system!)

Where there is no belligerence, there is no esperance. Wonks conk, monks honk.

Says Columbia U. mathematical physicist Peter Woit, from “Not Even Wrong”:

“The first set of winners of the $3 million Milner/Zuckerberg financed Breakthrough Prizes in mathematics was announced today: it’s Donaldson, Kontsevich, Lurie, Tao and Taylor. There’s a good New York Times story here.

When these prizes were first announced last year, I was concerned that they would share a problem of Milner’s Fundamental Physics Prizes… One oddity is the award to Kontsevich, who already received $3 million from the Fundamental Physics prize. Given my interests, I suppose I shouldn’t criticize a prize structure where physicists get $3 million, mathematicians $3 million, and mathematical physicists $6 million.

While this prize doesn’t suffer from the basic problem of the Physics prize (that of rewarding a single, narrow, unsuccessful idea about physics), it’s still debatable whether this is a good way to encourage mathematics research. The people chosen are already among the most highly rewarded in the subject, with all of them having very well-paid positions with few responsibilities beyond their research, as well as access to funding of research expenses. The argument for the prize is mainly that these sums of money will help make great mathematicians celebrities, and encourage the young to want to be like them…”

My comment (immediately published by Woit, whereas the New York Times sat on my Krugman comment for hours, since I am on the censorship list):

Milner is a celebrity. And a financial manipulator who became immensely wealthy with what Roosevelt and the Bible called contemptuously “money changing”. He profited immensely of a system, plutocracy, that is mostly about oligarchy pushed so far, that even the character of those “leaders” become diabolical.

It’s diabolical to make us believe that mathematics will progress more by giving more power to those who have more than enough to do good math.

Overall, science and mathematics do not have enough practitioners. A striking example is antibiotic research where a small effort needs to be done to find new antibiotics. To have a few individuals who are much richer will have no positive effect whatsoever. This is certainly true in math and physics.

In biology, immense greed has clearly undermined research (individuals have made up to half a billion dollar a year in that field, but one cannot find the comparatively modest finance for new antibiotics research). Making a few persons very rich promotes greed.

So why is Milner doing this? Maybe it’s subconscious. The oligarchic principle is that humanity is unworthy, but for a few celebrities who never get enough. This is what Milner is truly rewarding. His reason for being what he is. Someone obsessed by individual power.

Want to help science and math? Finance studies on how to persuade governments to finance enough advanced public free instruction in science and math, starting in preschool. Through heavy taxation of the richest celebrities, starting with Milner and his kind.

The very fact that Milner and his ilk have so much money to spend on celebrities demonstrate that they are not taxed enough. (The same goes for private jumbo jets a la Google founders.)

Celebritism makes people obsess about one not themselves. It’s deeply immoral: if our ancestors had obsessed about other people that they never met, they would have been eaten by lions pretty soon. But we are here, so they were not like that.

“Moral”, the “mores” means what is always “more”, what persists, what allows to persist. The celebrity cult, just as watching obsessively sports, or dance, on TV, is a deep offense against self-reliance. Such anti-evolutionary behaviors ought to be discontinued.

Part of the fundamental concept of fascism, is to make one, out of the many. This is great in combat, yet devastating for the collective mind. Celebritism is a pernicious way to make people obsessively love the reduction of the many to the one. Thus, it’s immoral.

Down with the prizes! Long live Gregory Perelman. Perelman solved several conjectures, including the Thurston and Poincaré), but adamantly refused the Fields Medal and the Clay Prize (one million dollars). Perelman had strong moral objections to the hierarchy in mathematics. So do I. So does Alexandre Grothendieck. Milner’s clumsy intrusion makes a bad situation worse. And Krugman’s meek bleating for the status quo ante to defend that ugly concept, pragmatism, does not behoove true intellectuals.

Plus Oultre!

Patrice Aymé

Note on the “art of the next best“: Krugman made a whole noise about the fact that his choice, and that there is a whole body of economics about that. The problem is that this is NOT principled. This is the art of the “corsaire”. “Corsaire”? Yes, corsaire, in French. What Krugman does not tell you, probably because he does not even know, is that this whole body of thinking (including “corsaire”, in French), comes very explicitly from Otto Von Bismarck. In other words, this mode of thinking, unprincipled, led to catastrophe. Bismarck, a polyglot, invented the “art of the next best“. Without knowing it, Krugman thinks like a Prussian imperialist.