African History Month 18-21 Feb ’16 ~QofDay~ African American History Month
February is African American History Month. The U.S. Government has created a free educational resource to be used by individuals, schools and community groups. To learn more, click here.



I’d take it one step further in the realm of abstraction than OM (actually, as far as you want to go, but one will do for a start).

To me, being clear about the right of individuals to self determination, the right of access to the necessities of life (at every level) and the right of individuals to access to both information and conceptual relationships between that information is key.

In this sense, it is now demonstrably clear that most of the cultural paradigms present have been invalidated.

This is as true of the notion of truth, as it is of the notions of gods, spirits, or the apparent safety of particular strategies that seem to have proved themselves useful in historical contexts.

So it now seems clear, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that reality is so complex, with so many random aspects, that it is impossible for anyone to be certain 100% of any aspect of reality, and we can get very close to 100% confidence about some aspects, and one can never be entirely certain which aspect is in which category in any specific situation. So there are many levels of uncertainty, and many levels of confidence, and many levels of complexity, which leads to everyone having to make choices (either consciously or subconsciously) about operational heuristics (things which one relies upon as being useful in practice, without claiming that they have any sort of absolute authority in all situations).

This idea of heuristics, useful approximations to something, is critical to effectively being able to distinguish the sorts of complexity that seem to be present in this existence we find ourselves in.

So it seems that all cultures face this issue, of finding useful approximations, and different cultures come up with different heuristics at different phases of their evolution (and individuals within cultures go through similar phases on their personal journeys of experience and understanding in whatever cultural context they happen to find themselves in).

It seems clear that we all learn much more from others than we are capable of discovering by ourselves, and one of the most powerful sets of things to focus on is learning effective ways of testing things that others think might be so, and testing not only their results, but the entire set of assumptions that underlie the logic and relationships involved in that way of understanding. Guys like Eleizer Yudkowski and Dan Dennett are very good at that sort of identification of strategies that have high utility in particular sorts of contexts. Dennett calls his “intuition pumps”, Yudkowski is more strictly rational, which is both a power and a limitation.

Being persistent in such questioning can take individuals a very long way from the cultures within which they we born and from which they started.

And one needs to be able to clearly distinguish between practical strategies that have demonstrated utility in historical contexts, and the explanatory frameworks within which those strategies were embedded. Often the utility of one says nothing about the utility of the other (contrary to popular myth).

So to me, having been over 50 years in such a set of enquiries, I am clear that most of how we organise our societies, most of what we teach people as truths, most of our laws and institutions, are actually there for the benefit of a very small group, and do not actually provide significant benefit (other than the emotional {opiate} of feeling good in a situation that is a very long way from an optimal solution to the problem of delivering security and freedom) to every individual.

So for me, there is little difference between market capitalism, and slavery. Both result in the vast majority of the population doing stuff that results in the vast majority of the benefit going to a very small group, and the majority is incentivised by their false beliefs in the system to think of their slavery as freedom (where as in reality we could easily deploy systems that delivered far greater benefit to everyone, but not by using a market based measure of value – which requires scarcity to deliver a positive value).

And there is this thing about the evolution of the human mind, that most people would rather be right, than anything else.

It seems clear, from my experience of many people with terminal cancer diagnosis over the last 6 years, that most people would rather die, than challenge their beliefs about the very notion of truth. They would rather die than admit of the possibility that what they hold as truth might be simply an approximation that is no longer useful in their current context, and that the the very notion of truth is an illusion (in part required for development, and in part maintained for the purposes of control).

It is only a very small group of people who are willing to challenge whatever it takes to ensure that above all else, they continue to live, and to do so in a way that similarly empowers all others.

So yes – what African-Americans have been subjected to is horrific, as is what way over 99% of humanity is subjected to ongoingly.

Yet it is much easier to see it in some other group, than to challenge the base assumptions of our social structures and to see it in ourselves.

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) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see
This entry was posted in Ideas, Our Future, Philosophy, Question of the Day and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comment and critique welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s