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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on January 7, 2004 20:41:51 UTC

Hi Mike,

Actually I am sorry I hid anybody as it serves no real purpose of any value. (To the moderator: if it is not difficult to reverse that act, I would appreciate having it undone. That is, I have no wish to hide anyone.)

Regarding that quote about the power of knowledge, I firmly believe that there is a great difference between learning and intelligence. The major problem with education is that there is no way to measure intelligence (in my mind intelligence has to do with what you can do with what you know: i.e., if two people know exactly the same information, the more intelligent person can do more with it). Schools attempt to define intelligence through it's impact on learning. One of the problems with this is that, particularly when we are young, learning is often a substitute for intelligence.

You might appreciate another joke I often tell. When we are young and ignorant, we have to think everything out and pay close attention to all the details. But, as we age and learn more about how and why things happen, more and more decisions fall into a category where thought is not really required. If we live long enough we may eventually reach the stage where all questions important to us can be answered without thinking! That stage is called senility!

Logical thinking depends upon beliefs. "Squirrel thinking" generates beliefs. When a squirrel runs out on that branch and leaps out into mid air and then ten feet away catches a branch on the other tree, he does it because he wants to get to the other tree and that is how he does it. If that isn't the essence of belief, I don't know what is. The squirrel never worries about his beliefs because he acts on them without any conscious thought (as far as we know).

The problem we are having here is one of communication (which is almost entirely a "squirrel" affair by the way as most words have meanings which switch in subtle ways in response to context: i.e., it is a far too complex a problem to analyze analytically).

I used squirrels as an example of functioning in the absence of belief and then turn around and refer to their behavior as directed entirely by their "beliefs" without any thought. When I think about a philosopher the context is quite different. When a philosopher speaks of his beliefs, he, just like the squirrel, is talking about what he "thinks" is a valid view of his universe so in one way both possess a belief set; however, only the philosopher tries to analyze those beliefs. Let us say that my complaint is about the philosopher's need to justify and or logically analyze his beliefs.

All the philosophers I am aware of seem to believe that the first step in understanding the universe is to verify the validity of their beliefs. But, as Harv has pointed out many times, there exists no way to verify such things. As a consequence, they all end up chasing their own tails so to speak. What I have discovered is that there exists a fundamental duality in all explanations of anything. All explanations contain both elements which are deemed to exist and rules of behavior of those elements. I have proved that it is always possible trade behavior of these elements for existance of elements and visa versa.

What this means is that the validity of your beliefs (what you think those elements are) is an entirely open issue. No matter what you believe those elements are, there exists a set of rules which "make those beliefs valid". Likewise, once the set of rules the elements are to obey are established, there exists a set of elements whose existence is either justified or forbidden by those rules.

Against that we have the fact that the real issue central to logical thought is independent of actual beliefs. Logic is the science of determining where a set of beliefs will lead. There is no need to believe the underlying concepts of a syllogism to decide if it is valid or not. Its validity is not determined by the validity of those underlying concepts but rather is determined by a defined analytical procedure (called logic).

Or, as Harv would say, it's just a game with rules and has nothing to do with reality (which is, in his mind, the validity of one's beliefs). Neither he nor anyone I have met can seem to comprehend that it is possible to completely side step that issue. Fundamental to that side step is the recognition of those two very different ways of making decisions: what I call "squirrel decisions" and "logical decisions".

So, with regard to your question, "is it 'squirrel' thinking which uses beliefs or 'logical' thinking that uses beliefs?", I would have to answer that, in my perspective, "squirrel" thinking is the source of beliefs and logical thinking requires beliefs as a source.

The most important issue that people like Harv (and many others) miss is that logical thinking does not require the source material to be valid. Logical thinking is no more than an analytical method of extending the applicability of that source material.

That is exactly the reason science uses logical thinking: they are looking for the essential consequences of those beliefs. The error they make is thinking that consistency with their beliefs is a good indicator of the validity of those beliefs. As I have said, and no one seems to understand, I think there are many possible explanations (stories which entirely fit the facts) for any phenomena one can experience.

They think that the fact that they personally can not think of any is a good reason to believe these other explanations do not exist! See Macula's response to my earlier post.

****
Mike: At http://www.bio.net/hypermail/bio-info/bio-info.199507/0004.html
"The well-trained brain is an outstanding "device" for structuring
information in a formal system -- which the physical universe is.
(With a few exceptions, DNA processes and atomic behavior
are "dependable.")
****

What is put forward here is that "the well-trained brain" (a squirrel concept conceived by that "well-trained brain"????) is an outstanding "device". To put that in my terms, squirrel decisions are almost unbelievably dependable at producing useable results. But to conclude that those decision are correct is a major leap of faith.

****
Mike: Human societies are "controlled" by hierarchies of self-indulgent dominant primates, which, unlike most of nature, deliberately use formal systems to create false thought perceptions and manipulate information to degrade other formal systems.
****
The only part of that with which I would disagree is the phrase "unlike most of nature"! I suspect it is quite a natural phenomena. You need to make an effort to read the massive volume of material referenced in http://dieoff.org/. Success breeds the results of that success!

****
Mike: "…a good engineer is a pessimist about "luck," and the questions not raised
now are not forgiven when the stresses kick in later."
****

I am afraid that the scientific community does not really understand "luck" and its consequences! What they think are the results of depending totally upon "luck" are fundamentally unexamined and extremely short sighted perspectives.

****
Mike: To say high population growth can be sustained at a high level of comfort is not to say it *will* be sustained at a high level of comfort."
****

If the current rate of population growth were to be sustained for 300 more years, the density of human beings will exceed five people per square foot. Believe me, that will not occur! I see no evidence that the term "intelligent" can be applied to the human race as a unit.

Have fun -- Dick

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