Infinity – again

8 Mar’15~QofDay~INFINITY

There are more points on the number line, collectively called the “continuum,”than there are counting numbers, but beyond the continuum lie larger infinities still — an interminable progression of evermore enormous, yet all endless, entities.
So the question is “How much is infinity?”

Bingo OM

Asking the question “how much is infinity” is definitely a category error at at least two levels.

At one level, the definition of infinity is a set without end, which is by definition beyond enumeration – which is why it has a symbol of its own (an 8 on its side).

At another level, infinity is a concept, an abstraction, and not necessarily an attribute of reality. The evidence from cosmology seems to indicate that our universe is very large, large beyond our ability to measure because it is bigger than the distance light has been able to travel in the time it has existed, yet still finite. So the idea is that reality is very big, bigger than we can physically measure, yet still finite. Some people have a lot of difficulty with that idea.
If that idea is true (as seems very probable) then there are no infinities in reality. Reality deals only with extant finite sets.

It seems probable that there may be an infinite set of things that are possible, but only a finite subset that will actually become real – and choice can be one possible influence on that, and in the absence of choice, habit, pattern, and random chance seem to be the major influences.

So it seems clear that infinities are only ideas in a very real sense, and there is also a sense in which anything we intentionally create has to start as an idea, before we bring it into reality. So who knows, maybe we will actually manage to create an infinity one day 😉

[followed by]


A set is defined by the definition of the set (the specification of boundary conditions of what is within and what is excluded from the set).

Some sets are finite (including all the real ones).

Some sets are infinite (some of the theoretical ones).

As to dark matter – that is not a subject I have investigated. I know that speculation is out there, and have not investigated the details of those speculations.

As to time and light, that is a really complex set of ideas. It seems that time is a local phenomenon, so the idea of universal time seems not to really hold up. And yes – light seems to be timeless in a sense, and to be the information carrying medium of our universe.

It seems that light has been around from the very early period of the universe, but the original signature of that light now exists only as the cosmic background microwave radiation.

So lots of issues in there that I really don’t want to get into at this point.

As to consciousness and materiality, it seems to me that Ken really has no real idea about what is actually happening. So far as I am concerned, he has no useful understanding of the nature of awareness or the nature of the relationship between awareness and the rest of reality. And in a sense, that is not surprising, as very few people have the sort of deep eclectic interest sets required to get some sort of an understanding of the major processes.

One needs to spend quite a bit of time working at programming computer systems to start to get some sort of feel for the levels at which software can run on other software, and models can contain models of themselves.

One needs to understand a lot about how neural networks can act as recognisers and predictors, and how those can recursively nest for a large set of levels.

So, as far as I am concerned, there is a lot of nonsense spoken about awareness being necessary for reality to function. That does not seem even a little bit sensible to me. And I get a lot of people believe it, and act upon it.

I have no shadow of reasonable doubt that matter is ontologically prior to our sort of awareness.

The quantum level uncertainty is definitely a part of what is needed to allow choice, and not simply automata acting out rules, and there does not seem to be any need for that uncertainty to have any sort of awareness. That makes no sense to me, just so much evidence against it in the structure of life.

Ken seems to me to have done some interesting high level stuff, but seems almost clueless with respect to the low level stuff about how biological systems actually work – which is a bit weird given his background.

[followed by]


Your last sentence “I am not accepting anything that someone else says” – intrigues me.

It is really strange.

We all have to accept a lot that others say.

For the first few years of life we have no other option, and that acceptance comes with a lot of explicit and implicit relationships and patterns.

What seems to me most powerful, is to be able to go back within ourselves, and explore (and unwind if necessary) those relationships and patterns, at the same time as we continue our explorations of the world in which we find ourselves.

For me, part of that exploratory process is accepting what others say, and trying it on, seeing how it “feels”.
Once I’ve done that, then I start the process of explicitly testing it. How does the explanatory framework offered work with the test datasets I already have, and the datasets offered, and what sort of experiments might I usefully perform to test aspects of claims? How does the logic of what is being proposed hold up? How does it look if applied universally, and long term?

So I am not at all opposed to accepting what others propose.

What I say is, that the uncritical acceptance of what others say is both unstable and dangerous if taken too far too often.

What is present for me right now is a conversation I had with the conman who stayed with us for a week. He had his story down quite well, and where there were holes in it, there was a reasonable explanation for those holes, but he was claiming to be a camera expert, but in one conversation we had he did not understand the technical terminology of cameras. I should have smelled a rat immediately, but that single piece of falsifying evidence didn’t immediately tip the scales against everything else as logic demanded of me.

I gave him the benefit of a doubt that did no longer exist. I let my desires, for what he was offering my daughter, cloud my judgement. And I just liked the guy, he was genuinely likeable in a roguish sort of a way. I still like him, even though I made sure he spent a few months in prison. Ensuring that he did that was part of my duty as a member of society. Publicising my own gullibility was part of the same duty, so that others might learn from my error, and James couldn’t use the story he had perfected with anyone else who might check it, because all the tags would take anyone who checked straight to photos of the conman, and the details of what happened to me.

That is part of my commitment to integrity, and the sort of radical openness required to deliver long term stability. No place left for “looking good”.

So we need to accept what others say, most of the time, and we also need to be alert enough to our own intuitions to check stuff out when intuitions start sending out warnings. Science and logic are great testing tools.

And most people are not so critical.

Most people live in a world of social agreement.

Most people believe what they read in newspapers, at least enough to talk to other people about it.
For most people, the agreement of other people is more relevant than agreement with any objective (in as far as objective is possible) datasets.

News media have to sell, have to hold people’s attention. To do that they must appeal to that aspect of our genetic heritage that has evolved to identify threat. So the papers and TV exaggerate threat (as a probability function in reality) to hold attention and make profit; and the result is a population increasingly on medication for acute anxiety and depression (around 20% in this country, and steadily growing).

The systemic reasons why these things are present are obvious, the feedback loops are clear, but very few people are, like me, stepping aside and looking at what the systems are actually doing, and why.

The only way to effectively lower anxiety levels (long term) is to stop using markets. Markets use the anxiety mechanics of brains to sell stuff. We are not going to change those anxiety mechanics of brain, so that leaves us only one other alternative – in the low level systems sense. Lots of ways of approaching it, but no real alternative to doing so.

It seems clear to me that communication cannot occur without trust (without accepting what others say in a very real sense), and at the same time our security demands that we be prepared to challenge when we have sufficient evidence or sufficient intuition.

I have stepped over that evidential line with respect to the organising principles underlying our social systems.

I am clear that money and markets pose far too many levels of existential risk to humanity – as individuals (to our freedom and security) and as a whole (to the survival of us as a group).

I am clear that the process of evolution by natural selection that has lead us to where we are can clearly be seen as a set of step wise increments in the levels of cooperation expressed between systems, and as such see the need to achieve the next logical step in that process – global cooperation between humanity, empowered and stabilised by technology.

In terms of dark matter- I see so many alternative explanations that have not been adequately dealt with as yet, that I just don’t want to go there yet. Let’s get some security from the next level of cooperation before we dive into that space – a lot of dragons lurking there.

[followed by]


Of course I suspected that what you wrote wasn’t actually what you meant, and I also concluded that the speculation it sparked was worth recording.

And like most things – it pays to check these things occasionally, because often people do not say what they mean, and sometimes they do.

And often we do not interpret what other people meant, and sometimes we do.


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
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