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Ok, A Public Note!!

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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on March 28, 2002 19:07:19 UTC

Hi Aurino!

I have really missed you! Welcome back and don't take these people seriously; consider it just a fun place to pass some time and maybe now and then learn something. Alan, before you read this, read the PS at the end!

A while back the subject of "mental problems" came up (the issue concerns a new poster at the forum). By the way "quite something occupant carefuluniverse spazcon boxholder etc" the real issue here is that it is very difficult to communicate things even in the best of situations and to muddy the waters with multiple identities is counter productive. Everyone thinks differently and in order to understand someone, you have to be able to shift your frame of reference when dealing with that individual as what they mean by what they say is a very personal code. When someone tries to avoid such identification, the most common way of handling the result is to categorize their comments as "noise". Most of life is sound a fury signifying nothing so you have to learn to ignore it; by taking the tack you have chosen, you have essentially chosen not to contribute.

But back to the issue of "mental problems"! I have an opinion (I long ago admitted to being an opinionated old man) that one of the most prevalent "mental problems" circulating within the human race is "the need to know". I think members of western civilization suffer more from this disease than do eastern civilizations (my opinion being based on the differences in their popular religions). Most all "intellectuals" I have ever met seem totally unable to accept the fact that they don't know what it is all about and never will know. If you look around you I think you will discover that the happiest people have accepted that fact.

Oh, I am not denying that the "need to know" hasn't led to benefits, but I think it is in many ways analogous to the benefits achieved by obsessive compulsive behavior (they are not apt to lose their car keys). But to take the issue seriously is going overboard. Look at history. Man has continually swung between thinking rational is great and thinking emotional is great. Both positions are madness and both always fail in the end that's why the pendulum swings! Accept the fact that you will never really know much of anything and you will be a lot happier. Maybe not as rich and powerful but a lot happier! Ignorance is indeed bliss but learning can be fun!

Now it's nice to know where your car keys are but is it worth being obsessive compulsive? In the same vein, learning is fun but thinking you know is insane. The final most serious case of "knowing" is being an authority! An authority is one who's "need to know" is so compulsive that it has blocked out all ability to think. It reminds me of that old joke about when you are young you have to think everything out or you will tie up left and right. As you learn more about life, you don't have to think about things so much. And finally, you know enough that you can get by without thinking at all: the final state is called senility!

So I guess this tirade has to do with the fact that you all expect too much! I think thinking is fun and I have spent most of my spare time thinking. I have noticed a few things that seem to pass by everyone else but it really isn't important. Living and enjoying life is much more important. I know that I understand very little but none the less, I think it is worth lighting a candle as opposed to cursing the darkness.

So that is what my presentation is all about.

Aurino: I think the question of what you can do to prepare yourself to solve an unknown problem is quite interesting, but I have no idea how one can answer it. It is certainly a valid question, and even though I can't think of an answer I know for a fact one must exist.

So, come on, tell us what you have in mind. Don't feel bad because some people have a point of mindlessly putting everyone down, a lot of us are interested in intelligent dialogue.


Sometimes it seems more like a monologue!

Ok, here are my thoughts on how I think one might prepare oneself to solve a completely unknown problem!

Whatever the problem may be, my solution (right or wrong, good or bad, no matter what it may be) is going to be based on the "information" available to me.

Now here I am going to go counter to Harv's position that "meaning" is part and parcel of the concept information.
( See http://www.astronomy.net/forums/god/messages/15690.shtml )
It is my opinion that attaching meaning to information is the essence of "learning". If one is to hold the two concepts as one and the same then they can no more understand what I am going to present than someone holding that the planets and the spheres which governed the epicycles were one and the same could understand Newton.

So we can add to that issue the fact that the solution referred to above may include a change in meanings attached to the information I now have. It is entirely possible that everything I think I know now is wrong! However, I cannot proceed unless I accept as a basis what I currently know: i.e., the meanings I currently attach to the information available to me. That is, the meanings may change, but the information won't.

Here we have touched on a subtle issue! How do I know the information won't change? Because, if it changes, it was not valid information, it was illusion! This is no more than a choice of meaning to the word information itself! Sorry Harv, but I retain the prerogative of assigning my own meanings to words. Such is necessary to clear thought! I might comment here that "information" as I have defined it is "true", it is "real" and it is the basic thing of the universe. There can be nothing more basic than information itself.
And I need not know what it is!
"It is that it is!"


What is very important is that, what ever I do, if I am going to cover all possibilities, I must make sure that I have not constrained that information in any way. And I need you people to stop me when I make a move which does constrain that information. Harv, don't bother because I don't think you are really interested and I suspect most of your reactions can be classified as "cavils". But the rest of you I am very interested in hearing from.

The first step is to define what I will mean by the word "concept". A concept will be "information" to which a meaning is to be attached. Now clearly, the number of concepts cannot be infinite because, by the definition of infinite, no matter how many I have, there are more. It follows that, the solution of the problem must involve a finite number of concepts. If it doesn't, I haven't a solution! Let me repeat again exactly what I said at the beginning, "whatever the problem may be, my solution (right or wrong, good or bad, no matter what it may be) is going to be based on the "information" available to me." Notice that I did not include the word "correct". That is a very important point! In fact, I think I will be so bold as to suggest that no such thing as a "correct" solution exists! I think that is a philosophical position but I am not sure.

Well, I know a little math. And Harv, I will define "mathematics" to be the construction and study of self consistent systems because I think that covers what mathematicians do! They define things and then see what they can deduce from those definitions! They are the experts and I will let them worry about defending their constructs. Each and every time I have ever confronted one with a difficulty, they have convinced me they are correct. And that is one hell of a lot better than the performance of any other field I have ever dealt with!

As I say, I know a little math. It is clear to me that being finite, the concepts to be defined can be numbered. That's pretty nice because, now I can speak about those concepts without actually attaching any meaning to them (you see, whatever meaning I may attach to them, I have to face the fact that the attachment may be erroneous). Thus, it makes no difference at all what those concepts may be, I can think about the numbers attached to them instead. If follows that, any solution I propose is based on "information" to which numbers have been assigned!

Now, can anyone out there explain to me why I should bother keeping this idea of "information" separate from the idea of the numbers attached to it?

This is the source of my definition "Reality is a Set of Numbers!"

Looking forward to your complaints -- Dick

PS Alan, please do not make any attempt to add to this or explain it. I want only complaints. This is the way I would like to look at the problem. I am open to any complaint as to why this is not a valid position to operate from! Please, no comments as to why it won't work, that is not an issue. The question is, does there exist any information which cannot be viewed from this perspective? The value of the perspective is another issue!

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