Archive for the ‘Reason’ Category

Twitter cuts (#104)


December 9, 2016admin 53 Comments »

Quote note (#210)

Noah Smith wants everyone to know that his head has exploded:

The right’s way of talking – and thinking – about race is just totally poisonous. The conservative movement has been recruiting working-class whites and Southern whites for decades by using anti-black dog-whistles, and by promoting the idea that government spending equals white-to-black racial redistribution. More recently, the Trump campaign has ridden – and possibly spurred – a wave of anti-immigrant xenophobia. In the online social science discussion, racial theorists like Steve Sailer have gained an inordinately huge amount of currency among right-leaning intellectuals. Then there are the Twitter Nazis and the Reddit Nazis (and let us speak no more of them). So it is basically now impossible to talk to people on the right about race in a rational way.

So people on the left are the only ones I can talk to. …


January 9, 2016admin 34 Comments »

Sentences (#26)

Not only stereotypes, but inferential processes terminating in stereotypes:

I’ve never been so disgusted with my own data,” said lead author Colin Holbrook, an anthropologist at UCLA.


During the next round of discussion on ‘The Cathedral’ substitutes, it might be worth throwing in (or up) ‘The Vomitorium’. (Although the word is bound to an unreliable legend, it turns out.)

October 9, 2015admin 14 Comments »

Logic and Nonlinearity

The crucial passages from this reconstructed conversation have already been cited over at the other place, but it’s important enough to pick over here, too. The maximally-compressed take-away: cybernetic processes are naturally registered as logical paradoxes (with consequent affinity between paradox and — dynamic — reality).

[The] whole fabric of living things is not put together by logic … when you get circular trains of causation, as you always do in the living world, the use of logic will make you walk into paradoxes. Just take the thermostat, a simple sense organ, yes? […] If it’s on, it’s off; if it’s off, it’s on. If yes, then no; if no, then yes. …

So the isomorphy between the most basic cybernetic control loop and classical logical paradoxes (for e.g.) is exact. The significance of this is surely beyond need of defense.

Capra asks, alluding to the Epimenides Paradox, “Do thermostats lie?” To which Bateson replies:

Yes-no-yes-no-yes-no. You see, the cybernetic equivalent of logic is oscillation.

It seems to me that something of vast importance was discovered here, and subsequently almost entirely lost.

(For anybody following the link, it’s worth noting that surgical extraction is in this case ‘steelmanning’. The retreat to ‘metaphor’ as a substitute for logical formalism is disastrously inadequate. The alternative that matters is not figurative language, but the circuit diagram, and recursive code.)

May 2, 2015admin 25 Comments »