Thursday, November 3, 2011


Perfection is a word that is, sadly, rather common; however, some time ago I've come to the realization that perfection is an incoherent concept. Interestingly enough, perfect has two major uses, one being the case of redundancy, if something must be perfect to suit a definition. The second and most significant problem is, outside vague and nonsensical use of the word, the idea of perfection is one that can be in virtue of a specific goal only. Something is perfect only in the sense it is idealized for a specific situation and/or for a specific goal and that any sort of universal or multiple areas of perfection is inane, which effectively defeats the idea of perfect.

What do I mean? Well, firstly lets look at the redundancy point. The phrase “A perfect circle” is redundant, because by definition a circle is perfect, or it is not a circle; likewise with square. Some phrases also use this, like “A perfect fit” well, obviously it either fits or it doesn't. If it's not a perfect fit, it is slightly loose, or slightly tight perhaps, but, really, it either fits or it doesn't.

The second use of perfect is interesting, since it's so damned silly. Let us define perfect, as a quick and by no means final but just for the purpose for this example, as “Any changes to the object/action will render it less effective or appealing, and no possible changes can make it more appealing or effective.” However, make note that this means it can only be in virtue of a person's perception or an intended use. Imagine the perfect sandwich. Well, it's perfect only due to the person eating it. One person's perfect sandwich is another person's mediocre sandwich. Even worse, one person's perfect sandwich on Wednesday may not the same as the perfect sandwich on Friday, for the same person. It stands to reason that, unless human biology changes, a sandwich which would reach the definition of perfect for a person can easily, later, be non-perfect as a different type of sandwich would be more desirable to eat, thus rendering the previous sandwich, which was perfect, to become non-perfect. The big problem? How can something that is perfect and cannot be changed to make it better somehow become non-perfect when no changes could possibly make it better? Well, because it's only in virtue of it being the most satisfying sandwich for a specific person at a specific time... which would be nice, but far from what the use of perfect tends to imply. The change in something outside the sandwich renders it perfect or imperfect, which means the properties of the sandwich, interestingly enough, is not what would make it perfect, or at least not in totality.

The idea of perfection is incoherent because it's only in virtue of a specific goal. A shoe that is a perfect size for me is only perfect due to the fact it fits in foot and any changes in size to the shoe would make it not fit. That does not make it a perfect shoe, however, as a perfect shoe must be universally a perfect fit for everyone, as a shoe that doesn't fit can't perform the intended use of a shoe. A ball is the perfect size only depending on what you need that size to be. A baseball is the “perfect” size to play baseball with. Likewise, the basketball is the “perfect” ball to play basketball with. That sort of renders the word perfect worthless, however, since there could be no “perfect” ball which suits both categories at the same time. A key can't fit all doors, so it becomes perfect only if the goal becomes to unlock the specific door that it opens...which makes it simply a key. Now, imagine the perfect key, the only way I could possibly think that it would be perfect is that opened all locks. Despite it being physically impossible... it would now render locks worthless and as such, the perfect key is no longer a key, but rather something that destroys the function of a lock. Perfection for the key means the impossibility of a perfect lock, suddenly. These physical examples are just showing that physical objects and actions can't be perfect, but still the most absurd use of perfect is for abstract or non-physical things.

Of course, the most inept use of perfect is a religious one. The phrase “God is perfect” is completely meaningless. Well, lets say someone goes “It means God has no flaws” which likewise is inane... because it really is just repeating the problem with the idea of perfect. Replace a sandwich with no flaws to me is going to have flaws to someone else. Furthermore, as I've said, perfect can only occur in virtue of a goal, so without a goal merely using the word perfect becomes, in the face of all logic, twice as meaningless. God is perfect in regards to what? Or, if you like, God is flawless in regards to what? Is God perfect at being a circle? Is God the perfect/flawless sandwich? No, you moron, you just use the word perfect because it has a positive connotation and you use it to try to express your emotion without trying to convey any meaning. Abstract things face the same problem with perfect. What could possibly be the perfect idea? The perfect number? It's all in virtue of context and goals, which renders perfection as a property completely impossible.

And with that note, I'll hint at my next post which no one will see, regarding language as degrees of impressionism.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Being Right

A stupid person once said to me, “Everyone likes being right.”, and like most things stupid people say, it's incorrect.

Being right is an intellectual virtue. The thing that people want to do is feel right, which is an emotional drive. For example, this person re-posted a picture in this thread while complaining about reposted pictures. Some other guy called him out on it. This idiot made two separate forum posts saying the person must have seen it on another website, rather than spending thirty seconds going back and looking for the picture, as to not prove himself a moron.

This trite little story helps bring to light my point. This person did not care about being right, he wanted to feel right. He would make a post saying that someone else is wrong despite the fact it would take mere seconds, literally, to get the evidence that would overturn his statement. People who want to be right open a book before they open their mouths, the dullards who want to feel right will argue without a shred of knowledge on the subject. The creationist feels he's right. The Libertarian feels he's right. The Flat-Earther feels he's right. The Christian saying “Gays can't raise kids as well as heterosexual couple” will argue with me. It takes journal access and a couple minutes to dig up a ton of studies proving that statement to be inaccurate. The desire to delude yourself into feeling correct is an evolutionary fact. Stupid people, however, are the worst of it because they have the desire to feel correct without the intellectual virtue of wanting to be right, as well as lacking knowledge of the subject that would even allow them to understand how foolish they are (See: Dunning-Kruger effect). The average creationist is probably the physical incarnation of this fact. The people who desire to be right actually appreciate when someone corrects them if they're incorrect.

Being right is less fun than feeling right, because when you're right and you see someone spouting ignorance, you have two options: Ignore it and build up some more spite for idiots, or try to educate a moron who obviously doesn't care about being educated and build up twice as much spite for trying to get someone to learn only to have them be as ignorant as ever.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Logic... well, I'm an expert in it (for some degree of expert.) This is why dealing with nearly anyone else else turns me into an even greater misanthrope.

Logic is analogous to math. Logical proofs are much like mathematical ones. Proving something like the proof for "Or" in logic is much like the mathematical proof showing how multiplication or division is possible. Logic as a system is technically separate from anything that is plugged into it, much like math. Multiplication as a mathematical rule is completely separate from any number plugged into said rule.

For example, 3x2=6 is true. However, the numbers are moot. The key to multiplication is not the number, but rather what multiplication does to whichever numbers you plug in. Logic works the same way. Here's an example of a logical truth.

If A then B
Therefore B.

Obviously, if you plug ANYTHING into each variable, you won't get an output that's true. Obviously. But that's the same with math. You can't randomly plug in 64 into "((7)xX = 4)) for 7x62=4. You don't get to throw in random numbers and come out with a proper value. So lets plug in something true.

If I am drinking a pepsi then I am drinking a soda
I am drinking a pepsi
Therefore I am drinking a soda

(You can do an additional proof to prove that Pepsi is soda, but sorta moot here)

You see, logic is analogous to math. Just think of the overly abundant moron who may utter the phrase, "Using your logic..." well, let us just say if you said "Using your mathematics..." you'd see how absurd implying (laymen wise) that there's a personal mathematics or logic. You wouldn't say, "According to your Math, blah blah blah." You'd simply point out that their damn arithmetic was wrong.

So here's the infuriating problem I have, every time I have to deal with the average person.

Math is the system in which you use to manipulate numbers to reach their conclusion. Logic is the system in which you manipulate empirical evidence, and just about everything else including absurd hypotheticals, to reach their conclusions.

The problem, however, is that everyone thinks their opinions and beliefs are both valid and sound, logically. Imagine that the person on the corner can do basic addition and subtraction. Now imagine that they do not understand multiplication or division, much less anything more complex, but believe every algebra or calculus problem they "solve" is correct.

Now... imagine that the person's religion, political, moral and social beliefs are all based on being able to solve calculus problems. The person who has no idea what multiplication or division is (or has heard the word, but has no idea what actually using them entails) will make a giant argument saying how his answer is correct. When you ask him to actually detail what the multiplication sign does to the numbers, he says something incoherent and incorrect, but this time louder.

Something terribly simple, like (2x(7+3))^3, would be unsolvable by this person, at least if you wanted a correct answer. The person does not understand order of operation. He does not understand multiplication or what taking something to the third power means. The end result of this formula he's trying to solve is the person's opinion on, say, global warming. Now, imagine someone took this problem, got the answer of 15, and believed that was correct regardless of what degree holders in mathematics said or attempted to teach them.

This is my every day, with nearly every personal opinion I see. This, sadly, is not hyperbole. The average person's ability to use logic is just as bad as the average child's ability to do algebra or calculus (depending on the complexity of the discussion at hand) However, math and logic are analogous, for athe's sake. The inability to do algebra while trying to solve algebraic equations would be an obvious farce to anyone. The inability to actually use the most rudimentary logic to reach conclusions, however, is done constantly, by nearly every person.

And the sad part is they are too ignorant to understand just how inept their attempts are. When you try to explain to them that the use of 5 logical fallacies in their argument is like using addition where there was a multiplication sign five times in a math problem, then using the answer they got as infallible truth, they become more adamant that addition = multiplication . When you point out the mistakes, they simply don't understand what multiplication is and refuse to become educated because -- hey, their answer can't be wrong, it's THEIR answer. Who's this asshole with expertise coming in trying to act like he knows more than I do just because he does?

So, yes, the average person on the street on anything more complicated the logical equivalent addition is like a six year old yelling at someone with a degree in mathematics that X is a letter not a number; you can't have X in a math problem. When you try to explain about variables they either don't understand or continue yelling as loud as they can, then start crying. This is how I feel dealing with the average person. Mind you, this is the average person, not the extremely sub-average tea-party moron carrying signs that say Taxes = Slavery. This is the sad reality I have to deal with nearly every time someone shares their opinion. This is also why, odds are, your opinion should be disregarded, even if you have the right one. As far as logic with the average person goes, if you have the right answer about a problem, it's more likely you copied it from someone than solved it, or were lucky enough to stumble upon it by accident. Opinions never deserve respect, only facts.
If you honestly don't believe that, please, tell me how much you respect (Godwin alert) Hitler's opinions.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Communism v. Free Market

I'm going to be frank here, this isn't going to be a detailed discussion on two complex topics that, quite frankly, 99% of the people who have a strong opinion on either one have almost no knowledge of the subject. Protip: If someone believes there is or ever has been an actual communist country, you can instantly and always disregard their opinion on the topic, lest they defend their answer by clarifying a countries attempts to create a communist ideal by forced industrialization of the country. No country has become communist as Marx saw it, or even as it changed through Lenin and Stalin.

However, that's a bit of a tangent. My real point is simple, unsophisticated yet, at it's core, pretty accurate.

Communism is the silly notion that, if we escape our capitalist system, everyone will stop being greedy, hateful, bigoted, and selfish. We will realize we're all fellow humans fighting the same struggle. We won't need a government, because everyone will help each other. No one will take advantage of anyone else, once we escape the capitalist system and realize it has tainted us. Despite the idiot Republicans ignorance, Communism's end goal is the abolition of government... you'd think these small-government idiots would read a book and learn a bit about what they hate but hey... educational books and Republicans rarely mix.

As simple as I make it sound, at it's core it is a silly notion, with many complex layers on it. And one that ignores every bit of evolutionary and psychological evidence we have (though I won't hold it against something from 100 years ago) It would never work, as Marx would have wanted.

Now, Free Market/Economic Libertarianism is the goatee'd version of communism, sadly enough. Rather than the idea that we should all help each other and that we're all equals fighting for the same cause and as such we should all have each others backs, so to speak the Free Market ideal is, well, evil. It is the idea that if everyone is completely selfish, greedy, spiteful, and self-serving then everything will work out. If everyone takes advantage of each other as much as you can, then only the most evil/born into wealth human beings (or business savvy, if you will, often the same thing) will rise to the top and everything will sort itself out and we'll have a utopia. The sad part is, this is more accurate and less simplified than my communism portion was, yet just as if not more accurate at the core.

Now, to be frank, I can write books on why free market libertarianism is foolish in nearly every regard. I can do a book or two with communism, albeit for far different reasons. The main point is this:

I have more knowledge on these subjects than the vast, vast, vast, majority of people. (This is not a fact that makes me look good, since I'm no PhD holder on the topics, it's rather a depressing statement about everyone else) Yet the painfully ignorant super-majority will defend whichever side they happen to have an emotional attachment to (as noted, their ignorance makes it impossible to have an intellectual attachment)

So here's the short and simple point. There are two people who are ignorant of the intellectual merits of the subject, but have emotional connections to them -- so lets break it down emotionally.

Communism emotion: We need to help each other out, stop being greedy and worried about what we have. Rich or poor, we need to help each other out, and then we'll find that to divide people based on wealth is the worst form of discrimination. Realize we're all in the same boat and we all need to help each other paddle. Break away from greed and lets have a world were everyone is being taken care of.

Free Market emotion: Be a greedy asshole, fuck everyone else. If you were born into a rich family and went to a good school with no worried as a child, then that means you worked harder than a poor kid who had a million roadblocks towards his success, including a vastly inferior education for his entire life due to circumstances out of his control. Everyone just needs to be completely selfish and then, eventually, the selfishness will balance everything out.

Pick someone who leans more towards communism realistically, low to moderate socialism, since it's basically impossible to be a classic communist now. It's sort of like supporting the idea that all illness is caused by the four humors. It makes no sense, you're trying to support an idea that has been dead forever and is impossible to even work into a modern framework.

Pick someone who leans towards free market libertarianism, which is just as silly as old communism, but still alive sadly. Compare the emotional simplifications of the two people. Conformation bias aside, it's fairly accurate, particularly since the beliefs are held due to emotional appeal rather than intellectual for the vast majority of both sides. The person leaning towards socialism will on average be more understanding, caring, and compassionate. The free market person will believe that every handout he got, every advantage they got, was their own doing. They often think helping others should be completely removed from the picture and everyone should be as greedy and wealth oriented as they can be.

Quite frankly, you can pick up strong emotional cues from core beliefs in the vast majority of people, and it's scary at how they correlate.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Degrees without intelligence

The more I see people the more obvious it becomes: the idea of degrees, advanced degrees even from 'good' colleges mean quite little, in terms of intelligence.

There are PhD biologists from top schools (I believe it was Stanford) who claim the Earth is 6,000 years old and evolution is false. Engineers -- well, don't get me started on them. Philosophers likewise, can be the epitome of stupidity despite it being a, supposedly, extremely intellectual pursuit. These are the 'good' majors, mind you, lets not plunge into the stupidity that is business/economics/marketing.

The problem is that intelligence is simply not the primary role in getting these degrees. I'd say that the vast majority of people I speak to on a regular basis -- excluding my family -- are above average in intelligence to some degree. I think most of those people will scoff at how easy... well, lets go with high school, was.

I have little doubt that any one of those people who put in the smallest amount of effort in high school could have easily obtained a GPA of 4. It really is absurd how simplistic everything was. The fact is, even the biggest dolts could have (and no doubt, many have) obtained these grades not by virtue of their intelligence but by virtue of their effort.

And that's the problem, intelligence doesn't get degrees, effort does. The creationist who wanted to get a PhD in biology so he and other dolts could constantly use the appeal to authority fallacy? Obtained not because his intelligence allowed him to, but his effort.

Likewise, it's the same for all degrees, in reality, and that's where the real point comes into play:

Never confuse education for intelligence. Many people do because many people lack one or both of the previous properties. A degree in say, chemical engineering, makes you (one would hope) knowledgeable in the field of chemical engineering, but it does little outside that. A degree in economics tend to just make you a moron. The point is a degree tends to only give you the knowledge that you would be required to have to earn the degree (or with economics, lack of knowledge) and nothing else. It does not imply, either in the logical or common sense, intelligence. However, if you do in fact believe it does, it strongly implies the opposite.

I know more about almost every topic than, say, Plato or Socrates. I would be a fool to say that the knowledge I've obtained makes me more intelligent.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Portal -- Worst game ever.

There's a game I've recently played, that many people enjoyed. It's called Portal. I call it the worst game ever made, or damn close to it. While many morons may suddenly clamor in defense of the game, I don't understand why. There's no challenge, just puzzles, except...there are no puzzles, just chores. You look at the room and you know what to do. Throw down a few portals and you go to the next room. There's not plot, at all. There's a robot that say a few words to you, that somehow impresses a bunch of morons. I think the entire dialogue of the game, typed out, would be about a page, maybe two if you use a very large font. The one and only interesting part of the game is that the portal gun is a neat concept, but that's it as far as game play goes. At no point in the game do you even slow down to consider the way to solve the puzzle in front of you, it's blatantly obvious every single time. It's as challenging as matching wooden blocks to holes with the proper shape. The closest thing to a challenge is you misaligned a portal by a foot and miss your intended mark. How difficult.

No plot. No story. No challenge. Nothing. You run around doing silly little chores for about two hours, or a bit less. The best thing in the game is the song that rolls at the credits. Sorry. I mean the only thing that isn't complete shit about the game is the song that rolls at the credits. I'll end now, because I'll just repeat myself in a frothing rage about how terrible this shit is. I would have rather spent two hours watching Battlefield Earth. Seriously.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

There's a rather interesting psychological study that's out there, research done by Dunning and Kruger, so their end result is aptly named the Dunning-Kruger effect. In 1999, these two published a study named Unskilled and Unaware of It:... detailing what they found in their study. Anyone with college access to journals or perhaps even Google can dig out the original article.

Anyhow, the study had those people participating in the study take tests over a various number of subjects, including humor, logic and grammar. The findings perhaps are not overly surprising for section of the study: Those who were inept in these areas, tended to overestimate their competence, and believed them being not only much better than they were, but above average compared to the rest of the people taking the study. So the idiot in the corner getting a 30% thinks he's not only doing well on the test, but also believes he is doing better than the rest of the people around him. The opposite is true for those who are above average in competence on those tests. They estimate their abilities as below what their true skills are. Furthermore, they assume/guess/estimate (without any knowledge of these people) the average competence level in the study is much higher. That is, they over-estimate how competent people around them are.

This study, while done well, does not shed to light anything that most people wouldn't consider anecdotally obvious (unless they're... the types of people who overestimate themselves, to say the least.) Many people throughout history has noted this behavior. Charles Darwin is famously quoted as saying, “ Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” This, in fact, is what the study proves using a proper scientific study. However, this is not the most interesting part of the study.

The most interesting part of the study is that the subjects were allowed to later see everyone's tests, and then were allowed to reevaluate their own and others abilities based on what they saw. Those people, who were above average and overestimated others while underestimating themselves, and saw the tests, properly understood and recognized that they were above average, and the rest of the people were not. Their reevaluated scores were much more closely in line with the actual results, after that.

However, those below average people who believed they were competent, after seeing those tests, still deemed themselves as above average and underestimated everyone else in the study, despite seeing all the completed tests. The idiots, as I'd call them, still believed after seeing the evidence that they were competent when they were not. How the hell?

To quote part of the abstract: “Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it” Basically, these people are ignorant but not only that... since they are ignorant, they're too ignorant... to realize they're ignorant. That's quite a bit of of ignorants. (rim shot, woo!) So basically, intelligent and competent people realize, after seeing everyone’s efforts, that they themselves are intelligent and the others are not. The incompetent and ignorant people, however, are so inept they cannot, even after seeing evidence of their stupidity, realize they're stupid. They cannot even comprehend and understand the evidence that shows they're dumb. That's Republican status, there. Literally.

This study sums up the vast majority of internet psychology so well, that it should be renamed the “Internet Forums Effect.” Particularly since the communication is done via writing and... well, let us say, that many people I know haven't read a book that actually used wit, much less understand what wit it.

The full abstract, if anyone is interested enough is here, so one can read it and perhaps look up the full study if they so desire.


Unskilled and Unaware of it

Journal of Personality & Social Psychology; Dec99, Vol. 77 Issue 6, p1121-1134

People tend to hold overly favorable views of their abilities in many social and intellectual domains. The authors suggest that this overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it. Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although their test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Several analyses linked this miscalibration to deficits in metacognitive skill, or the capacity to distinguish accuracy from error. Paradoxically, improving the skills of participants, and thus increasing their metacognitive competence, helped them recognize the limitations of their abilities.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Algebra – My Epiphany

I've had one real epiphany in my life (I loathe to use that word, but it's the most accurate I can think of) and it came during my first day of high school – in my first class. It was a basic algebra class and par the norm, we simply went over solving for a variable in the most basic fashion. I don't recall the problem offhand, of course, but something along the lines of X + 4 = 7, or something similarly simplistic. However, this small little bit of knowledge made me aware of something quite more... substantial than basic math. I saw, undoubtedly, that X was three. It was the answer, there was no qualms, no possible misinterpretations or historical inaccuracies. X was 3 and there was no possible way for it to be anything else. It... clicked something in me. Every answer, every belief and every thought should strive to be as accurate, as perfect and as unquestionable as the solution to this algebra problem.

In truth, it really made me aware of  true "logic", but given the woeful lack of education both in and before high school, I wasn't really aware of it at the time.

In mere moments, I started questioning with serious scrutiny every (or at least many) belief I had. Absurdities without real evidence were quickly dismissed, and I assure you I had some positive beliefs about some absurd things. From the Loch Ness Monster, to Big Foot, to Ghosts, to even more common silliness, all were put on the chopping block. I looked at math and looked at those beliefs and compared the strengths of those beliefs. It was silly, was the evidence and reasons I had for believing these things. I dismissed them. I saw that the evidence was sub-par and simply... dismissed my beliefs on those circumstances. Not clinging to inept conspiracies or having emotional attachments to unjustifiable beliefs, but letting them go. I, as a clich̩ goes, manned up and just accepted things I believed were dumb to believe in. This, I feel, is probably the most important moment in my life. I realized that it was better to be right than be sure you're right and still be wrong. It was better to be admittedly ignorant than believe things without evidence. These beliefs, create an end result... you actually are right and sure you're right because you care about being right Рnot about thinking you're right. You're ignorant of far less, since you refuse to have beliefs without evidence, so you go out of your way to collect data. I found, at least in my experience, a simple kid thinking that a belief should be more like solving for X made me, in many respects, a better person than most. Perhaps I put too much emphasis on this one point, this one moment, but the mind does such things. Either way, it's a point in time that I've found to be one that I tend to recall better than most, and for good reason, I would think.

And that's how it should be. Every idea with a relative evidence strength of 3 should either be believed or not believed. You don't pick and choose your beliefs based on what you want to believe... or shouldn't, anyway. Being a rational being means that every 3 is either believed or not believed. You can't choose evidence level 3 of Bigfoot and believe in Bigfoot, then see evidence level 3 of Loch Ness Monster and dismiss it. That sort of cognitive dissonance creates a person that, simply, is not rational. They become incoherent in their beliefs. It is something to strive against, personally and socially. In fact, I haven't given much thought to a real definition of irrationality, but to grab one off the top of my head:

An irrational person is one who accepts one belief, but rejects another, despite the evidence for both beliefs being equal.

That is my tentative definition of irrationality. That, is the one thing, that my epiphany really showed me, even if I couldn't articulate it at the time. All beliefs should adhere to the same standards, and those standards should be high. It's something, sadly, most people don't seem to put into practice.

An intro

Well, to begin, I'm writing this post as a small little intro as to why I'm making the blog.

To begin, I don't expect anyone to read this blog regularly, nor do I expect anyone to even glance at it more than once; however, I desire to write more and I find that at least posting these things in some sort of blog will at least give me the smallest bit of motivation to have some basic standards and perhaps write more regularly.

There is no overlapping theme to this blog, merely topics which I will feel like writing on, or have thought or am currently thinking about. As such, they will tend to be philosophical, semi-psychological and often random semi-sarcastic arrogant bullshit. I'll see how it turns out.