Funny Logic

Funny Logic by Ryan Dickherber

Tie

People think I work here. I don’t work here. I just wear a tie.

Piano Money

“This piano is fake,” she said. “I want my money back.”

“This money is fake,” he said. “I want my piano back.”

They laughed, but they were still pissed off.

Green Mustache

I wore a fake green mustache around for a while. People smiled and said “great mustache.” No one said “ugly mustache.” People like green mustaches.

Personal Responsibility

I didn’t want to take responsibility for myself anymore, so I assigned responsibility to my neighbor. I didn’t have to fill out any paperwork or even tell her, because she’s responsible for that now. I’m a bit annoyed that she hasn’t given me a status update or even communicated with me in any way, but I trust that she knows what she’s doing.

Father’s Eulogy

About a year ago I decided I needed a gun.

One reason was self-defense: I wanted to be able to defend my home should I ever need to.

Another reason was hunting: I wanted to be able to be able to eat animals that I personally hunted.

And finally, I wanted to be able to go trap shooting.

So I bought a shotgun.

When I learned that dad died, I have to admit, it occurred to me that I guess this means I gets to inherit his gun collection.

I am going to have such an arsenal now!

My home is going to be so well-defended.

And my hunting options are basically unlimited because I have every kind of gun now.

...

I also just got a new car. This is the fourth car I've had that used to be dad's.

But it will be the first car I've had that I actually have to take care of.

I hope he left instructions because I don't really know what to do.

I wouldn't be surprised if he did!

“In the event of my death, remember to change the oil every three months. And check the air pressure in the tires!”

...

You know, there's one thing of his I'm never going to have.

I'm never going to have his mustache.

It comes in over here [side of face], but it doesn't come in up here [mustache]!

I don't know how that's possible. I thought I had his genes!

I guess my mustache genes come from my mom's side of the family.

Male pattern baldness, though?

That comes from both sides of the family.

But don't worry about it, it's all good. The intelligence? The good looks? That comes from both sides of the family too.

...

Dad was responsible. He took care of us. He devoted his life to his family.

The saddest moment for me was the day after he died, when we were making preparations for the funeral and taking care of financial issues.

I realized that we had to take care of this, because dad couldn't take care of it for us.

That was when I really understood that he was gone.

...

In dad's honor, I would like to propose that we all go to Red Lobster and eat fried shrimp.

But only one time! Don't keep going or you'll have a heart attack!

All Disagreements

All disagreements are over definitions, where by “all” I mean some.

Changed My Mind

I used to think it was a problem if I changed my mind, but not anymore.

New Law

The government passed a new law today making violence impossible. Everyone is happy except the physicists, who will have to rewrite all their textbooks because of a few bad apples.

Imperfect

“It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough,” said God.

Food Button

I knew the button would give me food and therefore save me from starvation, but it was a bit far away, and I was feeling tired. So I died instead.

Diet

Everyone knows the healthiest diet to keep you free from heart disease and type-2 diabetes is to eat lots of whole grains, some fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy sparingly, and stay away from fat and sugar. Except, like many widespread beliefs that a majority of people uncritically adopt from other people (everyone believes it, so therefore it must be true), this is actually false. Certainly, some people can eat such a diet and live long and be healthy. But for others, this diet will actually cause health problems, including heart disease and type-2 diabetes—exactly the problems it is supposed to prevent. For such people, a diet based on animal fat and vegetables—nearly the complete opposite of the mainstream diet—is necessary to prevent disease. After learning about nutrition, I have started eating such a diet. I call it the “Cyclic Ketogenic Paleo+Dairy Diet with Intermittent Fasting,” and what it means is that I eat a diet based on meat and vegetables plus moderate dairy (in particular, yogurt, kefir, butter and cream), with occasional periods of high-carb eating to refuel muscle glycogen and raise leptin, and frequent periods of fasting to promote autophagy, raise growth hormone, and maintain insulin sensitivity (amongst other health benefits). The diet includes various kinds of animal products including organ meats (especially liver, nature's multivitamin) and green leafy vegetables which contain healthy macro- and micronutrients, fermented foods which contain healthy probiotics, and raw foods which contain healthy enzymes. This diet seems to be appropriate for me, but although I believe it must also be healthy for all humans, I don’t encourage anyone to eat a diet they haven’t thoroughly researched, so rather than encourage anyone to eat this diet, I encourage people to research nutrition and decide for themselves what to eat. Here’s the story of the research I did that ended in this diet.

I used to occasionally buy a box of Oreos and eat the entire box in one day and eat nothing else that day. I knew this was quite unhealthy and I was probably shortening my life, but I didn’t know what foods would constitute a healthy diet. Around the time I was pondering this question, I discovered weight lifting, and learned that in order to get strong, I ought to be eating lots of protein. This initiated my years-long adventure in nutrition education. After eating as much food as possible, including lots of protein to fuel my weight lifting, and gaining lots of unwanted fat, and therefore realizing there was more I needed to know about nutrition, I discovered the paleo diet, which is the diet consisting of the sorts of foods humans ate for most of human history (basically, meat and vegetables), when humans were healthy and before they got short, fat, diseased and acquired bad teeth when they invented agriculture. The paleo diet has a logical appeal that no other diet has. It must be healthy, because it is the diet that humans evolved into existence eating. Humans are tuned to survive on it. There might be healthy foods that aren’t paleo, but it’s basically impossible that paleo foods are unhealthy. And so I began eating paleo. Except, I was never quite convinced there was anything unhealthy about dairy products (which aren’t technically paleo), and instead was convinced they are great sources of nutrition (if you can handle the lactose), and so I kept consuming dairy. Unfortunately, after I started the paleo+dairy diet, I did not lose any fat, and was still nowhere near my ideal body type. I didn’t have any detectable health problems (fortunately), but it was clear I needed to learn more about nutrition to improve my body composition. So I read.

Anyone who investigates nutrition today will eventually be lead to the book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. At this point, of all the books on nutrition I’ve read (I’ve read 13), this book has been the most life-changing. Taubes thoroughly debunks the mainstream diet, which although it has the image of scientific credibility, is actually a pseudo-scientific scam. Anyone who reads Taubes should be infuriated with government agencies (the Department of Agriculture, for instance), non-profits (the American Heart Association, in particular), university labs (the unscientific ones), and food corporations (like, say, Nabisco) for encouraging everyone to eat a diet that will likely damage the health of a significant number of people, and has actually caused the obesity epidemic and all the other diseases of civilization including heart disease and type-2 diabetes. Although there was some scant evidence at one time that eating saturated fat and cholesterol caused health problems, the evidence was never very significant or convincing, and modern evidence completely refutes this hypothesis. There is nothing unhealthy about saturated fat or cholesterol. Read that again. There is nothing unhealthy about saturated fat or cholesterol. The people who say there is have not actually read the literature or are lying. The mainstream diet is wrong. It is the excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates, including sugar but also including (advocated in huge quantities by the mainstream diet) grains, which cause the diseases of civilization.

The paleo diet has lots of saturated fat and cholesterol, and no grains. Humans and human ancestors survived on this diet for millions of years. There can’t possibly be anything unhealthy about this diet, and indeed the evidence suggests it is optimally nutritious. (It is worth noting that there is no single, specific paleo diet. Different groups of hunter-gatherers had very different diets. However, they had some things in common. They all ate meat and vegetables, cooked and raw foods, fresh and fermented foods. None of them ate cereal, flour or high-fructose corn syrup.) Because of this fact, I eat paleo.

On the order of ten thousand years ago, (some) humans made two significant changes to their diets: they started consuming grains, and they started consuming dairy. Probably due to phytic acid (bad for everyone), gluten (bad for celiacs and anyone with gluten sensitivity), and high-carb content (which is bad for people with insulin resistance), grains can be handled by a significant portion of the population, but not everyone. Due to lactose content, dairy can be handled by a significant portion of the population, but not everyone. Whether you consume grains or dairy ought to be informed by whether or not you can handle these foods. If you think you can, but aren’t sure, you should try removing these foods from your diet and seeing if your health improves. A lot of people discover they are sensitive to these foods and they never go back. Personally, I have not noticed any sensitivity issues, but I’ve decided that consuming gluten is not worth the risk, while dairy is. You will have to make your own choice after surveying the risks.

There are two types of food that are unmentioned in the mainstream diet: 1) raw foods, and 2) fermented foods. Raw foods, such as raw fruits, vegetables, and meats, contain enzymes that help you digest your food. Fermented foods, such as fermented dairy (kefir, yogurt) or vegetables (sauerkraut) contain probiotics (beneficial bacteria) that take up residence in your gut and translate food that you can’t digest into food you can. Both enzymes and probiotics are valuable additions to any diet, and therefore I regularly consume raw foods and fermented foods.

In order to promote low body fat and big muscles, I eat a low-carb diet most of the time (which helps to keep insulin sensitivity high), but occasionally refuel with carbs to restore muscle glycogen (basically, the carbs in your muscles that are used for high-intensity exercise), and to increase leptin (since carbs encourage fat storage, and fat cells then release leptin) which gives a feeling of satiety which encourages your body to maintain a high metabolism.

The final component of my diet is fasting. The most important benefits of fasting for short periods of time are: 1) increase growth hormone (good for weight lifting), 2) increase insulin sensitivity (good if you are obese), 3) promote autophagy (this is when your cells recycle worn-out components and rebuild them into fresh, new components, which will likely help you live longer). Therefore I regularly fast. The easiest way to do this, in my opinion, is to fast all day long, and then eat one giant meal in the evening. This fast is long enough that it has all the benefits of fasting, but not so long that it has any negative consequences (except often a bit of hunger during the day, of course, although it is not very noticeable).

In summary, I eat a Cyclic Ketogenic Paleo+Dairy Diet with Intermittent Fasting. I eat lots of meat and vegetables, raw and cooked food, fresh and fermented foods, low-carb most of the time and high-carb some of the time, and I fast a lot. This diet promotes health (disease-free), longevity, and athleticism. After eating this diet for a month, my body composition has improved (I have lost 15 lbs of, probably, mostly fat), and my health has remained high (I have never had any symptoms of any dietary diseases and so I can’t be sure of this diet has changed anything about my health). The diet is also delicious and fun, and I have no intention of ever changing. Surely there seems to be no reason whatsoever to eat the mainstream diet. I do cheat occasionally when people offer me food.

If you are interested in learning more about nutrition, I recommend these books, which are the books that I have read in the order I have read them:

And these websites:

Some Properties of Non-Aggression

The non-aggression principle states that it is immoral to initiate the use of force against people or property (in the context of property rights, people are their own property, and thus aggression can be thought of as against property, period). Defense is allowed. For instance, if Person A punches Person B in the face for no reason, then Person A is a criminal for initiating the use of force, but Person B is within their rights to defend themselves with force from Person A. In this article I explore some logical properties of non-aggression.

The Definition of Non-Aggression

First, let us clarify what the non-aggression principle is. The non-aggression principle states that it is immoral to initiate the use of force against someone’s property. If you believe in the non-aggression principle, you believe it is immoral to start fights with people, but not (necessarily) to defend yourself from someone who is attacking you. If you do happen to believe that the use of force even for defense is immoral (pacifism), that’s consistent with, but not a part of, the non-aggression principle. To be a pacifist you must be non-aggressive, but to be non-aggressive you don’t have to be a pacifist. (I believe that pacifism, defined here as anti-force under any circumstances, is unworkable, since it gives an enormous incentive to criminals since they will have so many defenseless people to prey on, and thus criminals will proliferate, defeating any attempts to create a pacifist world.)

Here are some examples. Defending yourself is not initiating the use of force, and does not violate the non-aggression principle. Employing violence against someone who has always been non-violent does violate the non-aggression principle. Putting up a fence around your property does not violate the non-aggression principle. Tearing down somebody else’s fence because you don’t like how it looks does violate the non-aggression principle. Helping to defend your friends from a violent aggressor does not violate the non-aggression principle, so long as your friends want your help. Attacking a stranger and their friends because you enjoy the feeling of their faces on your first does violate the non-aggression principle.

Non-Aggression and Peace

Non-aggression is necessary for peace. If any one person doesn’t live by the non-aggression principle, then new fights will break out every time this person initiates the use of force, and therefore peace does not exist. Non-aggression is also sufficient for peace. If everyone actually lived by the non-aggression principle (an unlikely scenario), peace would soon follow. That is because force would only be used as defense, and thus old fights would quickly come to an end, and new fights would not start. No violent exchanges would occur at all in society—the definition of peace. Non-aggression is therefore both necessary and sufficient for peace.

Non-Aggression and Win/Win, Win/Lose Exchanges

When Person A initiates the use of force against Person B, except in rare cases, Person A wins, and Person B loses. But when Person A and Person B participate in a voluntary exchange, except in rare cases, they both win. Since non-aggression is biased in favor of voluntary win/win exchanges, it seems appealing from a utilitarian point-of-view (which aims to maximize the good of all), except for those edge cases where initiating the use of force may be win/win. These hypothetical cases where aggression is win/win, which may or may not exist, are exactly the cases that statists use to argue in favor of aggression. However, it should be obvious to you that whenever you are the one being aggressed against, you are losing, because for it to constitute aggression, you must have determined, using your own information and mental effort, that this particular exchange is not in your interests. You may consider the possiblity that you are wrong about what your interests are, but your alternative is to trust someone else’s conclusions about your interests above your own, which is a contradiction, because you would have to trust your own conclusions about their conclusions, after having just admitted that your own conclusions are untrustworthy. Therefore, you have no choice but to trust your own conclusions about what your interests are. Therefore, it is impossible to perceive a situation where you are the one being aggressed against as anything other than not in your interests (if you are rational). Further, whatever you conclude your own interests are, say X, then your interests are X. (These are what I like to call “high-level” interests, which are beliefs that you arrive at, and are distinguished from “low-level” interests which are pleasure and (being averse to) pain. Also, don’t confuse your gene’s “interests” with your own interests. Your interests are calculated in your brain. Your genes’s “interests” are increased frequency in the gene pool, and this may or may not coincide with your interests, which may include, say, not wanting to have children.) By concluding that such an exchange is not in your interests, then it is not in your interests. At some later point in time, you may gain as a consequence of the exchange, but that does not change the fact that you have lost by being aggressed against. The utilitarian argues that a net-positive outcome that eventually results from initiating force is worth criminal action in the present, but that doesn’t change the fact that initiating force in the present is criminal in the present.

Non-Aggression and Rationality

Suppose that you are the one doing the aggressing. Although it can never be rational to accept force being initiated against yourself, it can be rational to initiate force against others. Perhaps you believe an exchange will be win/win if you initiate force, or perhaps even win/lose, where you are the one winning. It should be obvious that although it might be rational to do this, it can never be moral. The person you are aggressing against is either convinced you are a criminal, or they are brainwashed or irrational in some other sense. Initiating force against them, even if you passionately believe you are doing them good, they will passionately believe otherwise, and rightly regard you as being a criminal (if they are rational).

Further, if you initiate force, it is more likely to be win/lose than win/win, for the simple empirical reason that people do actually have a pretty good idea what’s good for themselves, since they have information about their lives that you never will. In practice, the reason why Person A initiates force against Person B is obviously because it is in Person A’s interests, irrespective of the interests of Person B.

Conclusion

The non-aggression principle states that it is immoral to initiate the use of force. We have demonstrated that non-aggression is the principle of peace, that aggression is never in the interests of the person being aggressed against, and although aggression can sometimes be rational, it can never be moral.

Libertarians Don’t Just Hate Government

If you believe in the non-aggression principle (basically, don’t hit) and private property rights (basically, don’t steal), and you believe in the logical implications of these principles, which includes the conclusion that government is a criminal organization because it continuously aggresses and steals, then you are a libertarian. Because government has a monopoly on the initiation of force within a particular geographic area, and uses its monopoly on force to minimize non-government criminal activity in that area, and is therefore the biggest criminal organization in that area, and is therefore the biggest enemy of liberty in that area, libertarians focus a lot of their effort criticizing governments. However, some people think that libertarians are only opposed to government criminality and not other criminality. But this isn’t true. Libertarians are opposed to all violations of the non-aggression principle and private property rights. Government may be the largest and most sophisticated criminal organization, but not all criminals are in government.

Another myth about libertarianism is that libertarians care only about violations of the non-aggression principle and private property, but do not regard any other behaviors to be immoral. This is also false. There are many ethical principles one can add to libertarianism to arrive at a more complete ethical theory. For instance, a Christian libertarian may believe that going to church on Sunday is morally good. This is consistent with libertarianism because it does not violate the non-aggression principle or private property rights. Of course, there are plenty of “ethical principles” one could add to libertarianism that would not make sense because they would contradict libertarianism. Believing that anyone who doesn’t go to church on Sunday should be imprisoned contradicts the non-aggression principle, and thus could not be added to libertarianism in a logically consistent way.

Both myths are present in this criticism of Ron Paul by Noah Smith. Noah believes that libertarians believe that “if your freedom is not being taken away by the biggest bully that exists, your freedom is not being taken away at all.” I don’t know if any “libertarians” believe this or not, but if they do, then they are not libertarians as defined here, who by definition believe in the non-aggression principle and private property rights and the implications of these principles. Any violation of these principles, whether by a government employee or someone else, is a crime. Libertarians believe that big bullies and small bullies may be different in size, but they are all bullies.

The second myth in this article is that libertarians don’t care about any immoral behavior that is consistent with libertarianism. For instance, suppose Person A lives in a house, and Person B, a rich jerk, buys up all the property around the house of Person A, and then forbids Person A from walking across the property of Person B to escape. (This example is not given in Noah’s article but captures the essence of the examples he does give.) Person B has thus “imprisoned” Person A in a manner consistent with libertarianism. This is true. In this rare but possible scenario, the only way Person A can escape is to criminally trespass on the property of Person B. However, there is at least one libertarian, myself (and presumably many others), who regard the behavior of Person B, the effective imprisonment of Person A, to be immoral. This position is consistent with libertarianism. Further, there are many non-violent means Person A could use to escape that are consistent with libertarianism, such as convincing a lot of people to boycott transactions with Person B until Person B relents. So long as these means are consistent with the non-aggression principle and private property rights, then they are consistent with libertarianism. This basic strategy works with any immoral action that someone commits that is technically consistent with libertarianism. In response to any such immoral action, one can employ reactions that are also consistent with libertarianism.

Libertarians regard the government to be a criminal organization because it violates the non-aggression principle and private property rights. Government happens to be the largest criminal organization, and thus libertarians focus their resources on criticizing it. However, there are many criminals who are not in government. It is a myth that libertarians regard only the government to violate the principles of libertarianism. Further, libertarians are free to have ethics that extend libertarianism. It is another myth that libertarians believe all actions consistent with libertarianism are morally acceptable. There are many different ethical systems one can construct with libertarianism at the base that are consistent with libertarianism.

Strawman Arguments

Everyone says that strawman arguments don’t work. But this strawman argument works. Therefore, everyone is wrong.

Mistaken Mistake

I thought I made a mistake, but there was a mistake in my mistake. So I was right after all.

The Nonstop Humor Channel

You tune in and instantly start laughing.

Disagree

“I disagreed with nine people today,” he said.

“Make that ten,” she said.

Aggression

“I think we ought to use aggression this way to solve our problems,” he said.

“I think we ought to use aggression that way to solve our problems,” she said.

They fought about it for a while.

Something I’m Not

“You want me to be something I’m not,” she said.

“You mean you’re not a velociraptor?” he said. “Because that would have been cool.”

She actually was a velociraptor.

Everything

I have found it valuable to be able to talk about “everything.” Here’s what I mean.

The universe is, by definition, everything that exists. We may break up the universe into its subsystems. For instance, the universe is made up of Earth and Not-Earth, whereby Not-Earth we mean everything that is not Earth. In set theory, we would say that the universe is made up of the union of the set Earth and the set Not-Earth.

There is more than one way to break up the universe into its subsystems. Each way is called a basis (this word is taken by analogy to linear algebra). For instance, we may call the basis made up of Earth and Not-Earth as the “Earth basis.” But we could also break up the universe into, say, Saturn and Not-Saturn, or Milky Way and Not-Milky Way, or St. Louis and Not-St. Louis.

It’s important that each basis contain everything. It will typically be necessary to include a not system made up of everything not mentioned in the other systems.

We may make more complicated models of the universe. For instance, another basis may be St. Louis, Chicago, and every other city on the planet, and then also everything that is not a city. This model is more complicated because the basis has many more than just two elements like the Earth basis.

Suppose you wish to learn about everything. One way to do so would be to construct a basis where everything was enumerated in a way conducive to learning about it. For example:

If you learned about everything on this list, you would be sure you had learned about everything. If you would like to learn about things in more detail, then construct a more detailed basis.

A complication is time. The state of the universe or any of its subsystems change in time. I have not thought about this in detail and so can’t comment on the implications.

It is interesting to consider that any basis is itself something in the universe, and thus it occurs to us to break up the universe into the basis This Basis and Not-This Basis. This might make us curious about Godel-like paradoxes involving self-reference, but since the universe is not actually the same thing as our model of the universe, no self-reference occurs.

The strategy of breaking up the universe, or everything, into its subsystems is an extremely valuable tool whenever talking about everything, because you can be sure you are really talking about everything.

The Value of Argument

When I think about things on my own, I often find myself arriving at conclusions that are outside the mainstream. And whenever this happens, explaining my thoughts to people seems fruitless, because 1) people are not very rational and do not respond well to rational arguments, and 2) even if they did respond to rational arguments, my arguments often have to be very long to unwind their misinformation and thus I do not have enough time to make my arguments. However, I’ve found that there is tremendous value in making arguments anyway, even though I seem to never convince anyone of anything. It helps me derive implications I may not have otherwise have thought of, correct mistakes I may not have otherwise realized I was making, and sometimes other people give me valuable feedback even if I didn’t change their mind about anything.

Actions and Words

“Actions speak louder than words,” he said.

You Should Probably Be An Anarchist

The biggest misconception about anarchy (no government) is that it is chaos. But anarchy can have police and courts just like a state, except they operate as businesses rather than a government monopoly. And, with police and courts, anarchy would be as peaceful as a state, except even more so because you would not be forced to pay for anything you don’t want, like wars and welfare. But if anarchy would be just like what we have today except with no institutionalized coercion and therefore even more peaceful, why aren’t most people anarchists? I believe, like my younger self, most of them are not anarchists (the ones who are not sociopaths) because they have not followed the implications of their own morality. Most people are anti-violence and anti-theft. But the government is intrinsically violent (it has a monopoly on force which it uses only sometimes for moral reasons but mostly to retain its own power, manipulate people, and skim something off the top of economic activity) and funded by theft (taxes, which people are forced to pay, are indistinguishable from theft, and therefore are theft). If people merely follow the implications of their own morality, they will see that anarchy is the only moral choice.

“Things” That Travel Faster Than Light

This paper on the possible discovery of faster-than-light neutrinos has created a lot of discussion in the physics community and the world at large about the speed of light, the speed limit of the universe. Although I agree with most physicists that this experiment is probably the result of some kind of mistake, this seems like a good opportunity to point out that actually there are “things”—not neutrinos (probably) or electrons or any Standard Model particles, but “things”—that do in fact travel faster than light. Naturally, these “things” are a sort of trick, since causal influence never propagates faster than light. The first example is a laser on a wall. If you shine a laser on a wall, and the wall is far enough away, by rotating the laser you can drag the laser dot across the wall faster than the speed of light. Another example is an array of a million light bulbs in a long line timed just right so that they turn on one after another in quick enough succession such that the wave of them turning on travels faster than light.

So “things” can travel faster than light. But isn’t there still some kind of limit? Sometimes people say that “information can’t travel faster than light,” thinking that perhaps this is the real limit. But this too is false. If you project a message on a wall—say the message “information can travel faster than light”—and if the wall is far enough away, you can rotate your projecter to move the message across the wall faster than the speed of light. That’s information traveling faster than light under any reasonable definition of information.

But of course there is still a limit: in all cases of “things” traveling faster than light, causal influence always propagates at or less than the speed of light. This is true by definition. If it ever appears that causal influence is traveling faster than light, it is always possible to reinterpret the situation to understand that causal influence actually never traveled faster than light. Suppose Person A sent Person B a message faster than light. There would be a frame of reference where Person B received the message before it was sent by Person A. In that frame of reference, Person B could then send a message back to Person A, who would receive it before having sent their original message. Paradoxes could result. But the only way to arrange this scenario would be to plan it all out in advance. Thus we see that if we trace the scenario to its origin, the planning stage, no causal influence ever propagated faster than the speed of light.

“Things” that travel faster than the speed of light make perfect sense in relativity. For instance, gamma, the proportionality constant that shows up all over relativity, can be calculated for such a thing and is imaginary. These “things” are properly called tachyons.

Time is Finite

The following two claims are true:

It might seem that these two claims contradict one other, but they don’t if you recognize that time is finite. The universe has existed for all time, and therefore the universe has always existed. The only reason to think that these claims contradict one another is if you assume that time is infinite. But all the evidence says otherwise. Time is finite.

(See also my comment on Physics and Physicists.)

Private Property and the Extended Phenotype

As Richard Dawkins argued in The Selfish Gene and continued in The Extended Phenotype, genes are really the thing that natural selection acts on and organisms, such as humans, are merely the survival machines of their genes. Further, the effects of their genes do not end at the edge of the organism, but ripple out into the environment. A beaver’s dam, for instance, is as much a tool of the beaver’s genes for survival as the beaver is. The same argument could be made for human architecture (while noting that genes leave room for environmental variables to influence the organism and environment and thus there is no reason to think that genes have 100% influence over architecture, just that they have some).

There may be a connection between the extended phenotype and the concept of private property whereby organisms (in conversation, typically humans) own property that they have created or traded for or otherwise influenced their environment in order to take ownership of. Genes have programmed their organisms to have ownership over themselves insofar as this serves the interests of the genes. This is readily seen by how protective organisms are of themselves; organisms do not want to be harmed. But does ownership end at the edge of the organism? I think not. In the case of beavers, and humans, and presumably many other organisms, the organism is programmed to claim ownership over not just itself, but its realm of influence. This is seen in the beaver’s dam and the human’s home. Organisms are protective not just of themselves, but of everything they own, of which themselves are merely one piece. This is a consequence of the extended phenotype.

If I’m right about this, the concept of private property, including self-ownership, has a genetic basis. No amount of conditioning could get rid of this instinct. Perhaps this is why, or partly why, socialism and communism, where property is supposed to be owned by the state, or by everyone collectively, and not individuals, has in practice failed, because it does not respect the genetic reality of private property. If people’s right to own what they influence is not respected, this will result in conflict. And again, if I’m right, this provides a genetic basis for libertarianism, where private property is regarded as a natural right. That is because there is no getting around the natural instinct humans have to own property.

References

Links

Violence is Wrong

“You should never be violent,” she said.

“What if someone disagrees with you?” he said.

“Then you should constrain them, pull their pants down, and spank them until they agree,” she said.

“That sounds violent,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it’s the only way some people listen,” she said.

He did some calculations in his head.

“I disagree with you,” he said.

They began to make out soon thereafter.

Three Kinds of Probability: Bayesian, Frequency, Quantum

I had a hard time grasping statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics on an intuitive level as an undergrad. I’m not the only one. Here is my response to that article detailing my own understanding of the issue.

I had the same experience. For me, the problem was the concept of probability. This term was left undefined in every textbook, and I had no intuitive grasp of it like I had of charge, mass, space, time, etc. The key, for me any way, was the information theoretic interpretation. But it’s not as simple as saying that probabilities (and entropy) represent knowledge (and uncertainty). So here’s my interpretation which makes perfect sense to me, and now all the pieces fit.

There are three kinds of probabilities that are relevant in statistical mechanics. One is Bayesian probability. These represent your knowledge or uncertainty. Another is frequency. These represent the fraction of the time a system has a certain state. Then there are quantum probabilities. These represent the information in the environment with respect to some basis (a basis is an extension of the concept of a frame of reference—just like a particle can have a different location in a different frame of reference, the information in the environment can be different and, bizarrely, have different amounts of entropy in different bases).

In statistical mechanics, you might be tempted to ask whether probabilities are Bayesian or frequency. This is a false dichotomy. In your model, the probabilities are Bayesian. In the physical system of interest, they are frequencies. If your Bayesian probabilities are the same as the frequencies, then your model is accurate. Being accurate does not necessarily mean being certain.

Same thing with quantum mechanics. Your model has Bayesian probabilities which are accurate if they match the real probabilities in the system of interest. (Note that the probabilities of your model need to be the same in every basis, not just one, if your model is to be accurate.) Being accurate does not necessarily mean being certain (although, actually, entropy is always zero in a basis where the state is a basis element).

I have never seen a textbook that distinguishes between the different kinds of probability. If I wrote such a book, I would put it front and center. Instead, textbooks treat the different probabilities as different interpretations of the same thing. This isn't just misleading, but is actually false. No wonder students are confused.

For more information on this subject, I highly recommend E.T. Jaynes’s book “Probability Theory: The Logic of Science,” which, though it does not give the exact same interpretation of probabilities I’ve given here, will nonetheless give you a pretty solid grasp of Bayesian probabilities and how they fit into physics.

Libertarian Science

Scientific research appears to be made mainly by people in academia, government labs, and corporations, which I collectively refer to as “the system.” The system is permeated with fear because everyone is afraid of being kicked out before they get tenure (or at least some sort of permanent position where they are not removed after a small number of years). However it has occurred to me recently (somewhat to my embarrassment since it took me so long) that science itself has absolutely nothing to do with this fear-driven system. It is extremely liberating to realize that the system is a tool which we can choose to use or choose not to use and it not something that we must conform to.

Since the system applies a lot of constraints to what I work on, I henceforth choose not to conform. From now on I will be pursuing research independently here at Funny Logic (although I will still use the system as a tool to my advantage to the extent that it is rational).

Since there appears to be a myth floating around society that in order to be a scientist one must get a PhD and become a professor, I believe it is worth giving this other radical form of science a different name (even though it was, of course, the original way science was done). I propose the name “libertarian science” since the point is to achieve liberty as a scientist. The idea is also consistent with political libertarianism, which is a position that is opposed to the use of violence or threats of violence in order to get things done, and is thus opposed to government solutions to anything, including funding science.

I’m not the first person to discover the liberating idea that we don’t need universities, corporations, or government to do science. Einstein, for instance, discovered special relativity in his spare time while working as a patent clerk and not as a professional scientist, and was therefore operating outside the system as a libertarian scientist. Today, you can find a bunch of people who do libertarian science at, for instance, Less Wrong, which is a community of very intelligent people who have done a lot of really great work on human rationality on their discussion forum and blog.

References

Absorb Knowledge

“I’m trying to get this chimpanzee to absorb knowledge through language,” said the male human. “So I’m reading him books and showing him movies. I want him to absorb these facts and believe them just as though he had discovered them himself.”

“It won’t work,” said the female human. “Chimpanzees aren’t smart enough for that.”

“Fuck you,” said the chimpanzee.