Monday, 3 January 2022

Inductive versus probabilistic reasoning

Deductive arguments have a poor track record. Even if the argument is sound, the premises may be wrong, or the argument may not map well to the real world.

But inductive reasoning does not much appeal to deductivists. It sounds wishy-washy and doesn't produce the certainty that deductive reasoning appears to give. This is because so-called inductive reasoning is not how most people reason in the real world.

The classic inductive argument goes: The sun has risen 100 times before, therefore it will rise again tomorrow. Expressed in deductive terms, the implicit inductive premise is "if something has happened a lot in the past, it will probably happen again tomorrow". That's reasonable, but the key word is "probably". So the argument would be better expressed as "The sun has risen 100 times before, therefore it will probably rise again tomorrow." If we make the argument stronger "The sun has always risen before, therefore it will definitely rise again tomorrow", that's false.

The problem with this sort of reasoning is, like Laplace's rule of thumb, it ignores our detailed knowledge about the world. Like Laplace's rule of thumb, it's just a rule of thumb.

If the sun has risen a thousand times before, we do not just estimate the probability of it rising tomorrow as one in a thousand. We can be much more confident, because we understand that "sunrise" is a term for the sun moving above the horizon, as the earth orbits the sun in a solar system. For the sun to fail to rise tomorrow, something extraordinarily improbable would have to happen. For example, the sun would have to explode, in a way we did not predict.

In practice, we can use our knowledge about the sun to predict that it will engulf Mercury & Venus, and render Earth uninhabitable, in about five billion years.

Inductive reasoning should be replaced by probabilistic reasoning.


Sunday, 2 February 2020

Distributed thinking

You can have a new idea, but you may not see all the ramifications of it. Other people will take your idea and reprocess it, reformulate it, improve it.

You can find forgotten ideas in old books, or several recent ideas and combine them, synthesise them.

You discuss ideas with other people and process and reprocess them.

You cannot read all books, but you can discuss them with other people, and often learn enough to avoid reading the book.

Old books become out-of-date; you rewrite them so people today can understand them; you improve them.

A mass of people and libraries constitute a computing, information processing machine which is superior to a single person trying to work it all out on its own.

Indiscriminate violence against groups

"Strikes and protests have been held on the Greek islands of Lesbos, Samos and Chios over the government's handling of migrants arriving from Turkey.
Banners on the Lesbos municipal theatre proclaimed: "We want our islands back".
Another read: "No more prisons for human souls in the North Aegean."
North Aegean Regional Governor Kostas Moutzouris said on Wednesday he was "annoyed" that Greek islands had been "turned into places of concentration and detention" for thousands of people around the world.
In Samos town, the refugee camp is in the olive groves on a hill just a few minutes' walk from the town centre.
It is common to see migrants hanging around on benches at the seafront.
Migrants live in tents at the camp on the Greek island of Samos."
Why haven't locals taken matters into their own hands? Locals should form a secret society to shoot migrants landing on their shores as soon as they step off the boats, if not before.

Similarly, a reconquista of the streets requires a secret society to attack members of high-risk groups who enter civilised areas, even before they commit crimes. This is criticised as unjust, punishing the collective for the actions of individuals, but it is effective and has been used successfully historically. In the above case, it is not even a response to actions, but a means of holding territory.

Similarly, reprisals against a group are an effective means of deterring individual crimes.

Favela world

Devin Helton and BAP agree: the central problem of politics is the unceasing growth of third world slums.

Humans don't optimise for increasing living standards, they optimise for procreation. Humans who aren't willing to sacrifice living standards and civilisation for more children will be replaced by those who do.

This leads to the unceasing growth of favelas. Favelas are parasitic on civilisation: they appear on the edges of cities. They do not grow their own food or produce much (apart from a rich source of votes for a certain sort of political entrepreneur).

Favelas are populated by people who are willing to live at the highest possible density. They sacrifice everything for procreation, including producing beautiful buildings (their buildings are as cheap as possible: everything is sacrificed to make more of them). They occupy land that could otherwise be occupied by civilised people. They are a major source of crime, being proximate to civilisation.

What is the solution? The land must be confiscated and the people destroyed. Favelas will naturally appear and grow unless they are actively stamped out. We need a reconquista of the streets, violence against favela dwellers who enter the civilised areas and even those who don't.

Ways in which false beliefs can be good for you


  • Religion makes you have more children. 
  • Positive ethnocentrism: if you believe that your group is "special", you are more likely to defend it.
  • Negative ethnocentrism: if you "other" other people and groups, you can promote your group cohesion and more successfully defend your territory.
  • Meaning, purpose and transcendance: If you believe life has meaning you are more likely to procreate.
  • Suicide: if you believe suicide is morally wrong you are less likely to do it.
  • Group moral beliefs: belief in morality is one way in which groups can regulate behaviour.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Refuse to believe what isn't useful

I've previously written that truth and utility are not the same.

Corollary: you shouldn't believe things which are bad for you.

Moral claims that white people "should" pay reparations to black people can be refuted on moral grounds, or on the correct grounds that morality doesn't exist. But they can equally well be refuted by saying "No." Refusal is refutation. People who believe in the importance of truth will say that action is not argument or refutation. But they beg the question by assuming that truth is more important than utility. This belief in the "importance" of truth is a moral belief, and therefore wrong. It is more efficient to say "I am not going to believe that because it does not benefit me. I am not going to bother arguing with you, or thinking about it to convince myself. I am not going to do it."

Contrary to popular belief, you can choose what you believe.

Corollary: most people already do this. Most people's beliefs are determined by what is good for them. People whose beliefs are determined by what is good for them will tend to out-compete people who prefer to believe what they think is true. Ordinary people are not obsessed with philosophy.

In Donald Hoffman's talk "Do we see reality as it is?", he describes computer models which indicate that people who perceive reality in a way which increases their fitness, tend to outcompete people who perceive reality accurately.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Ways in which true beliefs can be bad for you

  • Knowing how to build a nuclear reactor, which then explodes. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
  • Disbelief in god when non-believers are killed. Disbelief in the socially dominant ideology when this is punished by society. Even if no one believes it, revealing non-belief can be fatal.
  • If you accurately know your own abilities, you may not take risks which would be good for you. You may be less confident which could be bad for you.
  • Self-deception and the having of emotions can be good for you. Instead of faking an emotion, you have it for real, and use this to get what you want.
  • Anti-natalism. If you don't believe life has a purpose, you are less likely to procreate.