Lots more blogging

Been an interesting few days.

Went out with the tramping club today and kayaked around the lake to the south of Kaikoura.
Got a bit interesting as a front came through, and we had to go ashore, and get the inexperienced members to safety.

Then 4 of us went back, and towed the empty canoes back to start. I’ve got a few sore muscles, as I hadn’t been in a canoe for many years, and the inner thighs and forearms are letting me know they exist. It was a hard paddle dragging an empty canoe back into 25-30 knots of wind for about a mile.

Just after we got home a large thunderstorm came through.
An interesting day.

Lots of posting in the last few days, particularly on the nature of understanding:

Question of the Day January 24, 2011

Do you like organic, fresh, or canned fruit? Why?

Organic fresh is certainly best – and canned is better than nothing.

Organic will be as low as you are going to find in pesticides, particularly organo-phosphates and poly cyclic aromatics (thngs like 24D, and related families). Both of these families of chemical interfere with the hormone and endocrine systems within us, and some of the breakdown products can be highly carcinogenic. Most of these families of chemicals also form dioxans during their manufacture, and have traces in the final products. Dioxans are highly carcinogenic.

The other side of organics is that they are more likely to have a wide range of “phyto nutrients” – which is a sort of catch all phrase that covers thousands of different chemical found naturally within the cells of those fruit.
Over our evolutionary history our systems evolved in conjunction with a vast array of these chemicals. Many of the systems that protect us from infrequent threats (like cancer, or parasites, or bacterial or viral infections), use these “nutrients” in the process.

Many of the modern varieties of fruit have been so selected for superficial characteristics (like colour or sugar content, or size) that the chemical balances that we evolved to live with are no longer present. In that respect it is often useful to include as much of the archaic varieties as possible in one’s diet.

One of the things that 40 years of interest in biochemistry and evolution has taught me is that naturally evolved systems have multiple levels of relationship, many of which are important only under very specialised circumstances. We are starting to discover some of these, and I suspect that our total knowledge on the subject to date is way less than 1% of what is there to be known.

We do know many of the general classes of systems that are involved, but very few of the actual specifics.

Then of course, as Andrew say – the flavour is great – particularly for tree ripened fruit (currently enjoying our harvest of tree ripened organic apricots from our organic trees, and a glut of plums).


Question of the Day January 25, 2011

What kind of eater are you? Do you go for the ookie stuff first to get it out of the way? Go right for the best noms and avoid the ookie stuff? Do you eat everything in equality, a little here a little there until the plate is clean?

I definitely eat the stuff that I know is good for me, but I do not like the taste of, first.

With that out of the way, I get to enjoy the rest of the meal. Saving the best for last.

I tend to like a range of textures and tastes, but I also like a consistency in the size of foods (probably due to having dentures, and large chunky foods cause the plates to move, and let stuff get under the plates, which then becomes painful as I eat).


Comment upon Lord Nigel Lawson: Five Myths and a Menace

There is a fundamental flaw in the whole of economics, which is that money is a measure of scarcity value, and that which is important and abundant has no monetary value (example oxygen).

There is an incentive in monetary systems to maximise the amount of money, which means driving abundant goods to a level of scarcity which maximises monetary value (we see it in fisheries a lot).

It is technologically possible to deliver abundance of all the things required for human life (food, water, shelter, communications, transport, educational opportunities), yet there are monetary, legal and political structures in place to prevent and suppress such things.

I assert that the greatest danger to human survival at present is our dependence on money and the role it plays in our decision making.

We need to create abundance in the things that are essential for human survival and development. That will not happen within a system governed solely (nor even predominantly) by economic considerations.

All of the threats described in the article above (which are real) could be mitigated, with appropriate investment of time and resources, yet there is no economic incentive to do so.

Mitigation measures for all could be in place within 15 years if we committed to doing so now. The actual probable cost is about the same as the life-cycle cost of a single Nimitz Class aircraft carrier. http://www.solnx.org is one such plan.


Question of the Day January 26, 2011

Have you any preference to what will happen to your mortal remains. Do you have a choice or are you leaving it up to those you leave behind?

I would like to stay inhabiting these mortal remains for a few billion years, and if that should not work out as planned, I have left instructions for my ashes to be scattered at sea from an aircraft, after they’ve taken anything out of it that anyone else might find useful (given that I’ve had melanoma, that isn’t likely to be much).


Question of the Day Jan. 27, 2011 Strongest Sense

What is your strongest sense? Touch, taste, smell, etc.
How do you feel this affects your worldview? Do you have a corresponding weak sense?

Eyesight is definitely strongest in the sense of bandwidth – maximum amount of information (provided I have my glasses on), but I find all the senses powerful.

I think smell has the strongest emotional responses.

I think I probably learn best on sound.

When driving (cars, bikes, boats or planes) it is touch that is strongest, feeling the vibrations and movement of the machine – making it an extension of my body.

Taste has taken a bit of a battering these last few months, and I am slowly adjusting to this vegan regime, though I can’t yet say that I actually enjoy much of it.

Then there are the electric and magnetic senses, I fond those quite useful at times. I can sense a microwave operating at quite a distance. When I was into building and fixing computers, I could tell how well a chip was working by the feel of it – most sort of felt furry when I held my damp fingertips a couple of millimeters above them, and those that were malfunctioning usually had what felt like sharp edges to them.

Balance is probably my weakest sense, and the one that gives me the most trouble.

My world view is definitely that there is a world out there, and my senses are telling me something about it, even if they are doing so through at least two levels of models.

My senses may be far from perfect, and they are still the best resource I have, far more reliable than what most people tell me (however well intentioned they may be).

So I am basically aligned to objectivist epistemology (with a couple of minor variations), and a world view based upon observation and testing of ideas, rather than on beliefs of any stories from any cultures (however interesting those stories may be). The “reality” those senses have revealed through my own experience seems far stranger than any of the fictions of any culture.

[Followed by]

Hi OM

I would love to say, and in a sense I can, that I am not limited by any model.

My models are always refining, expanding, transcending and including, intuiting to new levels.

And at the same time, in the absence of intuitions, all of our interpretation of perceptions are limited by our current set of distinctions and models (based upon our intuitions to date).

So no – I am not limited by AR, and my site with a critique of “An introduction to Objectivist Epistemology” has been getting a steady stream of hits for the last 18 years (http://www.fishnet.co.nz/ted/papers/objcrit1.htm has had 35 unique visitors so far this month).

And yes – our senses lie all the time – ever watched a professional magician or illusionist?

It’s just that in situations they are used to, they are remarkably reliable.


Gaia Community forum

I Have A Dream, about what 2012 offers us

Thanks Deb

I watched the video, and cried.
I read the text at http://www.mlkonline.net/video-i-have-a-dream-speech.html as I listened to MLK talk.

Though I live in a different country, over 10,000 miles from Washington DC, I was in DC and walked the Mall, and the streets around it (about 5 years ago), read all the descriptions on the pavements and buildings, and as I wrote to a friend as my 747 winged back over the Pacific ocean “It made me proud to be an American, even though I am not an American by birth” – I was proud of the spirit that formed the nation, of the worth of the individual, of the power each of us possess (even if most of us are ignorant of our potential), and of the commitment to freedom.

It has been sad to see how that commitment to freedom has been warped and twisted to become the protection of the freedom of the few to exploit the masses (as championed by current political, legal and business structures); and there is still the possibility of something else.

In that respect I love the quote from earlier in this thread “It IS a matter of taking personal responsibility, for ALL of the mind structures that we inhabit.”

There are so many levels to that.

For me, the journey of life has lead me to a place where I can see that every person except those most seriously crippled by physical accident or severe genetic disorder (very few indeed) are possessed of infinite creative potential. For most I see the that potential crippled by a culturally inspired willingness to hand over their power and responsibility to either or both of “God” or “the state”.

For me, the notion of God as taught to children has so many severe difficulties that it is most powerful to wipe the slate of it, and say simply that there is no such thing as God – and then to examine anew this incredible mystery in which we find ourselves.

While I acknowledge that there is a great deal of wisdom to be found in all cultures, and that everyone needs a culture to start their existence, there is also a sense in which it seems to me that our collective survival requires the emergence of an awareness that is essentially “post cultural”; in that it transcends the particular culture of one’s birth, includes all cultures in a sense, and provides a dimension in which all people may communicate effectively.

For me, the reality that is becoming clear through the application of our senses and our intellect – through the ever evolving disciplines that are generally called science – is far more amazing, beautiful and mysterious than any of the stories of any of the cultures (and some of those stories have profound things to teach us – like Genisis 2:17).

For me, I was introduced to Brian via email by Michael Skye – also of Austin Texas, a few weeks after Zaadz started, and I have maintained links. I have read Brian’s philosophers notes, and followed his other interests, and Michael’s also.
And I have followed other interests, and had my own trials – as many of you know.
A couple of sites that I have found really useful are:
http://www.sciencepodcasters.org/
and
http://www.brainsciencepodcast.com/

I guess it helps to have a degree in zoology and biochemistry and 40 years of fascination and interest in the topics, and in science and mathematics in general.
I guess it also helps that as a kid I was tongue tied, and teased by other kids, so to avoid that pain I retreated to the library and read, or hid and amused myself observing reality, building stuff, taking stuff apart, fixing broken stuff.

Like MLK, I have a dream, of individuals taking responsibility for their own actions, and acknowledging the rights and responsibilities of everyone else to do the same. And for me it starts with picking up every bit of rubbish, everywhere I see it; and speaking to anyone I see dropping litter. It starts small, and builds from there.

In that same sense, of picking up litter, it means speaking to people about the effects of culture on their being, the effects of mythologies (like the idea of God) and the need to question all such mythologies, and to rely on their own intuitions. To listen to all the arguments, and then to make a free choice, after, and not based upon, reason or consideration – in other words, to trust your own holographic processors, your own deep intuitions, upon which subconscious processors and processes are built our subjective experience of being.

And I get that the majority of people I meet will not be at a level of awareness that allows them to experience this relatedness and commonality; and it is still something to work for.

[followed by]

Hi Deb

Thanks for the story.

It looks like I need to be much more explicit about what science is for me.

For me science does not give any definite answers.
For me, science is a never ending inquiry into the eternal mysteries of existence.
For me, Kurt Goedel, in his incompleteness theorem (See Doug Hofstadter’s “Goedel, Escher, Bach -Eternal Golden Braid”) has established a theoretical basis for believing that the journey of science will be infinite; and many others including Werner Heisenberg and Ludwig Wittgenstein have shown why there must always be uncertainty about everything we rely upon as knowledge.

So when you wrote “Science is not infallible; and there is much that science still does not understand” I have those among the deeper level understandings and abstraction that my journey in science over this last half century have given me.

The very notion of “infallibility” is anathema to science.
Science deals only with probabilities, with the establishment of things “beyond reasonable doubt”. There will always remain some level of doubt in the mind of the scientist – there is no avoiding it. To remove all doubt, one must have tested all possible states, and that is not even theoretically possible.

Certainly, every child starts with a belief in the certainty of things. With the idea that there is such a thing as truth, and it can be known.

It seems that our very awareness is born from the distinction “right/wrong” (which has a homologue in true/false); and it takes a while for awareness to transcend and include those concepts, and move to a realm of possibility and probability.

I don’t know what you mean by “Yet, that science can not give the woman who chooses that path, to motherhood, a successful outcome”. I know of many women trained in science who acknowledge the biological reality of motherhood and have chosen that path, successfully, at every level.

I acknowledge that there is much that is deep and mysterious. It seems to me likely that the depth of that mystery is infinite, and it seems that if I live a billion years I will still derive satisfaction and exhilaration from the investigation and contemplation of the every expanding depths of those mysteries; into new uncharted depths of the unknown and the uncertain. And I suspect that is a very different sense from the one you use when you state “There is something else, that is deep, and mysterious, and equally real and solid – beyond science” – as for me it is beyond not just science, but all methods of apprehension.

Our holographic processors can give us brief intuitive glimpses into its unchartable depths from time to time, and both the holographic nature of our thought processes, and the intuitions that they deliver, are an intimate part of the growth of “scientific” knowledge and awareness.

For me “Science” is the infinite journey into a personal understanding of the twin realms of the real and the possible (that which may become, but has not yet become, real). There is no end to it, no absolute certainty to it. A potentially infinite cosmic quest – for time without end.

It is certainly no child’s conception of science, as something known and knowable in a finite sense.

Infinity is one of the most difficult concepts for anyone to get a handle on, but once someone does grasp it, their view of the universe, and of the nature of being, can never quite be the same again.

I certainly believe we are at the bleeding edge of the leading edge, though the term “morphic resonance” seems to be a misnomer, a misunderstanding of a much more profound process – that of holographic association combined with the amazingly intricate relationships that evolution has exploited with its essentially random explorations of the possibilities available to life on this planet over the last 4 billion years.

[followed by]

Hi Deb

I am familiar with Sheldrake’s work, and have read some of his books, and while I acknowledge the reality of many of the phenomena he describes, I see no need to postulate anything remotely related to “morphic resonance”.

For me, with my immersion in LASERs over 30 years ago, and with over 30 years experience of working with computers, both at the component level, then building them in the early days, and working at all levels of software development – systems, languages, and application development; I see how the holographic nature of brains (and, at a more recursive level, our awareness) combined with many of the deep level connections that evolution had built into the many levels of living systems in the 4 billion years it has been operating, give me an explanation of those effects that does not involve anything like “morphic resonance”. And I can see how such an idea would make sense to someone without my experience, and I don’t see any need to invoke any such thing as part of the explanatory framework I use – it works quite sufficiently without it.
I think it highly improbable that “morphic resonance” exists.

I can understand your smile.
I have my own as I think back on some of the many people and places and events that have left indelible impression on me. One, my biochem prof, disagrees with many of the conclusions I have drawn; yet I acknowledge the huge part he played in giving me a love for the subject that has allowed me to form the abstracts that I have. Peter has a different set of abstractions, and operates by different rules, and I will always love him for the difference he made for me – even if he never does see things as I do.

I am used to being an outlier.
I have a degree of comfort with the discomfort (if that makes sense).

[followed by]

Hi Deb

Maybe I need to add more to the context.

At the same time I was raised on farms with animals and worked for 17 years a professional fisherman and diver, and was a member of both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth (for a time).

Also active in the Humanist Society, Mensa and the Theosophical Society (as well as sports groups, service groups, and various committees) – so I was out there getting as wide a range of immersion experiences as I could.

So when you say “more on the mechanistic side of things” – yes I have an understanding of a scientist and engineer (which Sheldrake at least claims the science part of); and at the same time, I also have an intimate familiarity with nature on the practical side, working with animals and plants; and people through 30 years of political activism, with the intuitive understanding of life that those experiences engender.

So I have both sides to my being.

As I said, I can understand how people think up ideas like “Morphic Fields” as an explanatory framework, and I also understand how when one gets down to the low level details of what is actually happening, that such concepts do not align with what is seen at those levels (the notion is falsified).

I find that the idea carries at least as much “distracting baggage” as it does “useful idea”.

For me, as Bacon observed long ago “nature to be commanded must first be obeyed” – thus the more one wishes to create, the more one needs to understand the deep level commands of “nature”. It seems to me that those commands are present, and if obeyed, deliver infinite creative possibility.

I make no pretense to knowing all such, just sufficient, with sufficient confidence, for my purpose.

My involvement in this site is about creating a world that supports infinite diversity in prosperity and abundance and security. To do that, I will need to be confident of all my understandings, to a very low level, to a very high degree of confidence.

Hence I am here, testing, contributing, sharing – practicing integrity in an environment that is not easy for me – yet is far more friendly than the political spectrum I must eventually face.

Arohanui
Ted

[Followed by]

Love your contribution OM.

Several levels within it that I completely align with.

Earlier today I was thinking along similar lines – with respect to “flat earth”.

If one is building a house, then considering that the earth is flat is a perfectly adequate first order approximation.

If one spends one’s life travelling from village to village within a local area of a hundred miles or less, then the approximation holds up, and is useful for all practical purposes.

It is only when one starts travelling long distances, of a thousand miles or more, that the discrepancies between flat earth and round earth start to become far more than simple measurement error can account for, and we need to reconsider our model, and use something closer.

As a second order approximation, the earth can be considered a sphere.
That works well for most navigational purposes, and will allow you to travel around the world and return home.

Once your measurement error starts getting below a few miles, then it becomes obvious that the earth isn’t a sphere, it is actually fatter at the equator than it is between the poles.

Once measurement errors drop to a meter or so, it becomes clear that there are many gravitational anomalies, that some bits are heavier than other bits, and the surface of the water deviates up and down.

When we start looking very closely, at a scale of less than an inch, and at time scales of a few minutes, it becomes clear that the earth is far from stable. Even the “solid” ground has tides. It also has other sorts of waves going through it, as the entire earth “rings like a bell” at very low frequencies. The earth is going up and down beneath our feet for all sorts of reasons – earthquakes, large storms, changes in solar output, solar storms, changes in the earth’s magnetic field, plate movements.

What we think of as solid earth is just a crust floating on a seething mass of liquid rock far below our feet.

Continents are constantly moving, on time scales beyond normal human lifespans, forcing up new mountains. Mountains are constantly wearing down by erosion, and the process constantly releases new minerals into biological systems. It is constantly in motion, constantly washing away, constantly changing.

As you say OM – everything depends on the scale at which we look at it, and the purpose we have.

For many simple purposes, simple (early order) approximations are sufficient.

I make no claim the the approximations I use are in any way ultimately accurate, and I am clear that they are much more accurate than the earlier order approximations that I have used on the journey to the current set of approximations (models/maps) that I use. I am very confident that there are much better models, and I do not yet have either access to, or need of, them.

The reality is unchanged. It is still what it is. It is just my understanding that keeps going through these profound reorganisations as new ways (new models, new paradigms) become available via intuition.

One of the most profound intuitions I have had in my life (complete with bright lights, rushing noise, and a feeling of amazing bliss) was about the nature of intuition itself (the whole holographic thing – which is actually a fascinating physical process with amazing side effects – giving rise to intuition).
Understanding it is important in the sense of answering questions like:
How do I abstract?
What is intuition?
How do I sense things?
Where do I get these feelings of deep connectedness from?
How could people possibly get past the human nature that is demonstrable in history and live in peace?

So I agree with you OM, in the sense that on many issues and at many levels we can focus on our commonalities, and work with them, and gain alignment.

And there does exist a set of levels, where we must work at altering the substructure of what many consider fixed reality (ideas like economics, money, politics, nation states); and doing that effectively does require understanding the substructure to a sufficient level of accuracy to effect the changes.

Acquiring such a level of understanding does require some sets of abstractions that are incompatible with many of the conceptions that are useful lower order approximations.

Again I stress, that bringing understanding to this level, is not making any claim that this level is any sort of “ultimate understanding”, it isn’t. What it is, is a minimal approximation to give usefully predictive models of the things I am proposing we do.

I dislike the idea of anyone doing anything just because someone else tells them it is a good idea, without at least having a general overview of what they are embarking on, and why (which is the exact opposite of any current military or political command structure).

I do not want people to follow me in that sense.

What I want is for people to see for themselves where I am going, and to choose for themselves to come with me.

Call me an idealist if you like, and in one sense I am, and yet in another sense what I am asking is intensely practical. We need people to learn again to trust their own intuitions rather than the orders or ideas of those in authority. The safety of everyone critically relies on this.

I know this idea is recursive, and I know that it is possible in theory to lose oneself indefinitely in recursion – and don’t worry about it. Human brains have inbuilt mechanisms to stop such things. It takes a great deal of training to get most human brains to operate with more than seven levels of recursion. Most people cannot do it. So play with it as hard as you like.

I agree with you – that all people are treasures.

Unfortunately, that is not the dominant paradigm on the planet.

For many, human life is worth the cost of a bullet (about a dollar) {if they are given the bullets, then not even that}.

Arohanui
Ted

[followed by]

A couple of things.

You said “I admit I often [but not ultimately] despair that people will be willing to look that far, for example, for the FUNDAMENTAL causes of what they see.”

This is interesting.
In the model that I am now using, it seems highly improbable that anything is the FUNDAMENTAL cause of anything.
What seems probable is that the closer that we look, the stranger and less certain it will seem.
It seems possible that this might go on indefinitely (an infinite stack of approximations).

So to me it seems entirely possible that there is no “Fundamental cause” of anything. Just a weird set of happenings, within certain probability bounds, with certain levels of pattern and probability emerging as a result.

Intuition is fundamental to understanding how mind works.
It is used recursively in so many different processes.

Reason is a second order process.
At a lower level reason is based upon the conscious mind, which is based upon intuition for all of it’s distinctions and abstractions.

Reason can only be learned by a mind that is already fundamentally functioning on intuition at the subconscious level (intuition here always refers to associations delivered as a result of the process of storing and retrieving information as an interference pattern – otherwise known as “holographic storage”).

Reason can be used to deliver justifications for our intuitions, and to provide coherence and linkages within certain paradigms.

In that respect, I am not what most would describe as “rational” in a strict sense, though I am very fast at rationalising my intuitions (so fast that few can discern the difference).

Does this make any sense?

[followed by]

Hi Deb

It is a really difficult judgement call about how much does one make explicit?

Many people are of a nervous sort of disposition, and actually do thrive best on the “ignorance is bliss” model.
My wife Ailsa has panic attacks, some of those are no doubt influenced by discussions with me of some of the threats I investigate.

My objective is to create as secure an environment as possible for all humanity.

To do that I must understand all of the threats, in order to have effective mitigation strategies in place.

There are actually quite a few threats.

Now that I am aware of the ways that some brains can get into anxiety states that they cannot easily break out of, I am reluctant to make all of the threats explicit, and they do exist.

This does give me a difficulty.

I can only explain why all the different aspects of what I am proposing are necessary if the other person is willing to look directly at the threats.

It is only in this sense, that what I am suggesting is necessary.

There is a real dilemma for many people.
Do they simply trust someone like me, that I know what I am doing, and let me get on with it, knowing that if they look closely at what I am doing, they may find it so terrifying that it literally scares them out of their minds.

For some (many) people, it really does seem like it is preferable to die in a disaster, rather than risk being scared out of their wits by contemplating it ahead of time. Neither way will they be able to take effective mitigation measures.

It is also true that there are many possible ways of billions of people dying, that we could put in place effective strategies to deal with, but haven’t yet.

Part of the problem is that the only effective way to deal with some of the biggest threats is to fundamentally change the structure of the economic governance models. The people who are the recipients of most of the benefit of those models currently are not too interested in change, and they have most of the money. So it is going to get a bit interesting at some stage.

It does pose someone like me with a really difficult set of ethical challenges, as if the physical challenges weren’t difficult enough.

I want most people to be making their own decisions, based upon their own intuitions, and at the same time, I know that for many – to seriously look at the real threats, from the mental models they are currently using, would actually send them over the edge into awareness crushing anxiety from which there is no simple escape.

Not a trivial problem!!!


Question of the Day Jan.28, 2011 Cigarettelight

If someone asked you for a light for their cigarette, and you had such a light, would you refuse because you would be helping to damage their health or accede in order to help them?

I would mention to them, that both of my parents suffered 5 years of disability prior to their death due to the effects of smoking, and I would recommend that they gave up. I would then, provided they were outside, give them a light if they still wanted it.

Something interesting that I have discovered in the last year since my own brush with “terminal cancer” is, that if people are on an organic plant based diet, then there is very little increase in cancer due to smoking.

Smoking is a risk factor in cancer, and a far greater risk factor is our poor diet, with too much meat and sugar, too many carcinogens (particularly organophosphates, polycyclic aromatics, and dioxans – mostly from pesticides and plastics) and too few fresh fruits and vegetables.

For people with healthy diets and lifestyles, smoking is actually a very small risk. Not that I am promoting smoking, I am not – I am a non smoker, and I enjoy smoke free air.


Question of the Day January 28, 2011

You have the power to change one thing on this planet…only one…What would you change?

Can’t be done!

Change anything really significant and everything changes – all is connected.

Happens all the time – every time someone is truly creative!

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Lots more blogging

  1. Ted – this is a great piece with a wide brushstroke of topics to really sink one’s teeth into. I’m still chewing!

    Like

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