Thursday, August 21, 2008

How Do You Cut A Space?

Someone linked me to a blog with this on it in my comments.

I respond by saying, "This is why if our physical world is four-dimensional, it can never interact with anything of higher or lower dimensions."

Or perhaps I should say not 'why' but 'for the same reason'...

In any case, it all relates.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Policy of Mine

I always answer all questions, as candidly as possible.

There's a sub-policy for questions I can't stop myself from lying about; I refuse to answer them. This is mainly so that I can support the main policy as widely as possible.

Originally I formed this simply because as a philosopher I want to get into people's heads, and it's freaking annoying when they dodge my questions. Since I was a good little boy, I followed the Golden Rule and did unto others.

Now, though, I have a nice post hoc rationalization. I've found that while it's helpful for interpersonal communication, it's vital for a philosopher to be as honest as possible.


How many cults could work if the leader answered every question with absolute honesty? How long would even the Pope last? How long would, indeed, any politician last?

And what do all these so-called 'leaders' have in common? Their leadership depends on deception.

In other words, total honesty is your guarantee that I'm not trying to lead an uprising, because I've completely gimped myself. I simply cannot do it.

You can test this. There is a question you could ask any of your 'authorities' which basically translates into "Are you completely unfit to rule?" If I become a potential authority, and you ask me this question, I'll answer yes.

(Also I should just in general appear different than other people.)

I should disclaim that this policy does not apply to obviously hostile questions. "Have you stopped beating your wife?" will provoke the honest answer of "That's bullshit and you're full of it." This is basically because if I answer without context, it does in fact sway those on the fence - which is exactly why hostile people ask them in the first place.

Less hostile questions that are nonetheless damning I treat with more equanimity - I wait for my interlocutor to ask for context. Since they're curious instead of hostile, it's just a matter of time. Occasionally I need to prod.

So, second, what does this mean?

If I can't lead an uprising, it means I cannot form a coterie. If I'm the same person to every person, I cannot be all things to all people, and it's just impossible to be like Rand. Honesty does not provoke fanatical devotion, which immediately implies that fanatical devotion leads from not-honesty.

I cannot use deception to cover holes in my philosophy. I just have to say things like, "Well, I've proven it, but even I don't believe or use it." For instance it seems pretty clear that humans are hypocrisy machines. Human levels of self-awareness means that we can disrupt arbitrary habits, which leads pretty much directly to death. So, there must be a powerful built-in self-deception machine to preserve necessary instincts.

Yet, I'm not a hypocrite, as far as I'm able to not be. So, other than sheer arrogance, what basis have I for saying that hypocrisy is human nature? I'll say it anyway - but I don't live by it, nor do I intend to. It's what I've proven, (strongly suggested, in this case) not what I believe.

I can use that free will, that self-awareness, to disrupt this habit when I feel it is a good idea.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Reddit Datum

I just noticed that Reddit's main reddit has slightly fewer subscribers (50933) than the science sub-reddit. (Exactly 53000 when I noticed.)

I wonder if Reddit readers are, in general, infected with the Dawkins virus.

Of course it can't be total, because I read Reddit.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Because I didn't know.

Consciousness or a test of consciousness is often considered to be self-awareness.

I was reading the preview of this. It uses a great abbreviation, whirr-click. When a turkey hears the chirp-chirp of turkey chicks, whirr-click, it plays the mothering tape, regardless of all other factors.

But if it were self-aware, it would be able to observe its reaction. Now, since physicalism is (mostly) true, to be self-aware is to have a test for self-awareness. So, a self-aware turkey would be able to tell when its habit was leading it astray. "Why am I mothering a stuffed cat doll?" The test would be the turkey going, "I am going to stop."

And that is self-awareness.

I still think the fact that house flies have recognizable emotions fairly strongly supports the conclusion that nearly everything with a brain is conscious.

'Highly Regarded' Mathematicians

Do subatomic particles have free will? ask two 'highly regarded' Princeton Mathematicians.

Yes. Obviously.

Seriously though, it's nice that people are independently coming to my conclusions.
"indeterminacy is inherent in the world itself"
It's nice to be right.

The exact reason is that
"They used a pure mathematical argument to show that there is no way the particle can choose spins around every imaginable axis in a way that is consistent with the 1-0-1 rule."
Although, journalists suck.
"The particle, Kochen and Specker showed, is like a cheating player. They found it out by showing that no single object satisfies all the “questions” (or all 33 axes) at once."
The particle isn't very much like a cheater at all. The particle is being prodded, and that prodding changes its internal state. As a result, it's not surprising at all that it 'decides' its spins ad hoc.

Incidentally, I exactly mean that
"the best way out of this paradox is to accept that the particle’s spin doesn’t exist until it’s measured. "
Something I'm glad I read the article for:

"Conway and Kochen say that they have now proven that particles’ responses can’t be pre-determined, even within this possible interpretation. “We can really prove that there’s no algorithm, no way that the particle can give an answer that is unique and can be specified ahead of time,” Conway says. “I’m still amazed that we can actually manage to prove that.”"

Notice that this means it was, up until now, unproven.

"Kochen and Conway say the best way out of this paradox is to accept that the particle’s spin doesn’t exist until it’s measured. But there’s one way to escape their noose: Suppose for a moment that Alice and Bob’s choice of axis to measure is not a free choice. Then Nature could be conspiring to prevent them from choosing the axes that will reveal the violation of the rule."

(Edit for clarity: the particle's spin or any rule whereby the particle's spin will be determined.)

The paper also beautifully shows how determinism and free will, while supposedly very different, have the exact same consequences. The mathematicians have found that either entanglement is exactly what it's thought to be, or else determinism is strictly true. In other words, that either free will or determinism are true but it works out to the same experimental results.

I also just realized another level of this logical structure. Compatibilism is false, but the consequences of compatibilism - that determined humans are morally responsible - is true.

(Which incidentally is a good example of the fact that you should ask what your philosophy is for. It's very very likely that what's true will also serve that purpose, and then you can stop being wrong without having to completely rearrange your life.)

I've noticed something else. Journalists suck again, though at least only slightly; the article references the "Kochen-Specker paradox" which, if you want to look up, is actually called a theorem.

On the other hand, journalists do have an actual job. Check out La Wik and decide for yourself whether Julie Rehmeyer's hand could do good things there.

I guess to be precise, journalists suck as writers. Their literary and logical skills are weak, because they spent all their time developing the ability to communicate the ideas they're given.

Addendum, from the reddit title: "Two mathies prove that if humans have even the tiniest amount of free will, particles behave unpredictably."

Something I had especial difficulty with.

"But Conway and Kochen have shown this scenario is impossible for particles that are incommunicado. They invoked the old Kochen-Specker paradox to show that if the spin 1 particle’s behavior is pre-determined so that it isn’t allowed to “change its animal,” it won’t be able to give answers that are consistent with the 1-0-1 rule. So if Alice and Bob are lucky in how they choose their axes, they should be able to force the particles either to disagree or to violate the 1-0-1 rule — contrary to experimental evidence."

That phrase there, "change its animal" needs to be clarified. The mathies have actually proven, in a general sense, that Alice and Bob can force the particles to change the rules under which they decide their spins. (Just like the infinite-series-of-averages, this only works in a finite universe.)

In other words, they must be stochastic. There is no other interpretation, unless determinism is strictly true. (Read a fantasy book where the character tries to outsmart prophecy for more illustration.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Way to Come From Nothing

Physics is self-healing.

I was thinking about a likely initial state for the universe, absolute nothingness. How it works is that we can ask the ex nihilo question, and therefore absolute nothingness must not be stable, and I take that to mean that while there is no reason for it to end, there is also no reason for it not to end.

There is the problem of determination, though; once nothingness decays, what does it decay into?

Most likely, a single random rule appears. Specifically, something exists, (absolute nothingness just ended) and it has some rule through and by which it exists.

This has, as far as I can conceive, the immediate corollaries of A=A and A!=~A. Without the first, it doesn't exist, and without the second, it decays immediately back into non-existence, because it spawns only pure chaos.

Through the law of non-contradiction, this rule will immediately start spawning new rules. Anything that is a contradiction immediately becomes impossible, and then these restricted actions start spawning corollaries.

(Since it's safe to view physics as a list of things energy cannot do, this immediately makes sense.)

This is the reason, I think, that physics is consistent to a mathematical degree. Every law is simply a consequence of some initial law.

This makes the mind node even more interesting. Somehow, as physics was sorting itself out, there was a conflict. The NIP - the fact that this universe is a finite universe - requires stochastic behavior.* However, you can build a non -determinism machine using a stochastic object, and so physics was doomed to be under-determined.

*(Particles have to smeared out over space because the probability of an event occurring at exactly one point in time is an ∞/0 situation, and so the uncertainty principle is required. And yet, it's still one particle - it cannot interact with anything but another particle, which requires more or less one point in space. Thus, stochastic behavior.)

However, the whole point of this formulation is that it's basically self-healing because it's self-generating. Any time a new situation arrives that has no particular rule, a new one is simply generated at random, restricted only to not contradicting existing rules. And so, it may be in fact that there was no consciousness until a mind node was actually created, at which time the existence->rule->system event was repeated all over again.

Incidentally, I think the law of excluded middle is optional - there is a second version, which results in a continuous or possibly infinite universe, unlike our quantized finite one.

One of the upsides of this idea is that it tells us where our seemingly arbitrary quantities came from - it was physics growing to describe a new situation.

Thinking about this, I realized there's also various less-silly versions of the God idea - the idea that there is in fact an atemporal set of rules which held in the 'time' 'before'* the big bang. I plan to analyze these as well, soon.

*(In a scenario of non-time, the term 'before' is meaningless. Note that by the NIP time must be finite.)