Archive for September, 2020

Variations on a theme : protecting incorrect core beliefs in a NNN

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

So, I’ve been reading Thinking Fast And Slow, which talks about several things that I’ve already thought about considerably, but from the perspective of considerably more research than I’ve done about them. One of the things it’s underlined for me is the idea that our brains have both configuration that is still flexible and configuration that has been compiled – well, actually hardwired, via interconnections between neurons – so that it can run at sub-second speeds. As a musician I am trying very hard to make the connection between the music I imagine and what my fingers do be built this way – at the moment, it is for my right hand but not for my left.

Anyway, one of the things I’ve been thinking about is the right wing’s continued defense of Trump even though he’s obviously a abomination. One of my friends, out of ways to defend Trump directly, has a never-ending series of ad-hominem attacks for Biden. This is the same friend who was once talking about how we shouldn’t have government healthcare because it could involve the government paying for a citizen’s mistake even though he’s only alive because the government assisted him after he did something fairly boneheaded.

So I’ve been thinking about that, and about how we parrot the statements of our peers and the talking heads on the television without thinking about them, and part of what I’m contemplating is that we may do such things as part of the process that defends our core beliefs even when we know they’re wrong.

See, it takes a certain amount of neurochemical resources to rebalance our neural networks – one of the things that ends up happening is that subnets that become a large nexus point between interconnects are still relevant even if they represent a belief that’s been disproved, because other firing patterns still pass through them. Now, of course, as with things like a closed-head injury, there are systems in place to arrange for alternate wiring, however that process must be pace-limited by the fact that it’s actually consuming resources – making wiring connections between neurons in a human brain is *not* free – *firing* is not even free, it involves uptake of chemicals that must later be released and so there’s a limited amount of it that can happen for any given amount of time.

As a result, I would imagine we have evolved defense mechanisms that will protect core beliefs that large amounts of neural circuitry are routing through *even when we ourselves know they are wrong*. I wonder if that’s part of what’s going on with my friend, since the alternative involves him having a deep lack of self-awareness.

I also wonder – one of the things in general that’s difficult to absorb and understand about the right is how they can over and over see their cherished points of view being obviously proved false (the laffer curve, for example) and then go back ot them. ANd I wonder how much of that is the above phenomenon, and what sorts of checks and balances one needs to have in place to correct for the fact that humans will cling to beliefs that are provably wrong.

One part of what’s going on with this election is that people on the right are accusing nearly all news channels of being ‘fake news’ – so they are living in a alternate reality where Trump isn’t a evil bastard who steals from vendors and from the american people, is in massive debt, has routinely acted abysmally towards woman, is probably a white supremacist, and lies constantly. Instead, everything the media says is “leftist lies”. Now part of what’s alarming to me is this demonstrates they have no memory, because we can point to things like Trump’s handling of COVID as demonstrating that he’s making statements that provably turn out not to be true in ways we can all remember. What’s also alarming is even after Trump completely flubs COVID due to treating it kind of like the right treats global warming, the right will continue to go on about the “global warming hoax” – even though other science-y things demonstrated the scientists were right, they won’t recognize the pattern and start to listen to science. These people are not in touch with reality and they don’t know it and (possibly because of the above) there is no way to put them in touch with reality. I am not sure what the solution is going forward but I am starting to think freedom of the press should be slightly abridged such that things like Fox and Friends must actively say at the beginning of each show “This is entertainment only. We are going to lie to you. None of what we are saying is true.” or some such.

Point Of View

Monday, September 28th, 2020

So, as I currently see it, Earth is deteriorating and humans are likely to be extinct inside a century, with the question of whether they take most other forms of life with them a open one. I see corruption and stupidity as winning over and over, especially in government, I see the way governments treat citizens as between awful (USA) and horrific (China), I see the general direction as steadily more dystopic.

One open question though is, is this actually the state of the world, or is this the state of my input filters that define my experience of the world? I’m definitely open to the idea that I may be creating hell out of heaven – I know that my mind has some configuration issues (understatement) and also that it has more than enough capacity to do such a thing. One thing that gets interesting for me in political discussions is that I have yet to meet a conservative smart enough to understand that what they’re experiencing may not actually be reality. (The number of people who can cope with this idea that I know is fairly small)

It is one possible explanation for the massive split between republicans and democrats – it’s not that we’re living two different types of lives, it’s that we’re living in two different, but congruent realities. This is clearly true, with the open question being whether those two different realities are out there in the universe or inside our own heads. One thing I’d say in general is that republicans tend to be less moral than democrats, while they tend to point at their morality more. This may be a pragmatic requirement of the reality they inhabit – or this may not be true of the individuals themselves and just true of the experience I have of them once it’s gone past my input filters.

Of course, another explanation is just that humans are programmable and there’s a lot of blatantly lying propaganda out there to try to push people towards voting for the right because the right is the setup that lets Betsy Devos leave almost every child behind so we can have another generation of Donald Trumps – not to mention the right is the setup that lets the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.




Monday, September 28th, 2020

So, back in the day, the US used to  discourage monopolies and anti-consumer behavior. Lately we’ve come to cheer them on (for example Microsoft is now allowed to treat the situation as if it is their computer and you are just borrowing it with their operating systems that make it nearly impossible for a nontechnical person to turn off automatic updates)

One place that this is especially visible to me is in our political system. A honest anti-monopoly government would break up the democrats and republicans as each having a monopoly.


We need a new religion

Monday, September 28th, 2020

So, one of the things I’ve talked about a number of times is that we need a new neurological operating system, a new way of seeing the world. I’ve talked about how possessions and experiences could be created out of connections between neurons instead of physical objects, vastly reducing our load on the planet. We certainly could experience lucid dreaming to reality levels of realism, and thusly at least have some portion of time in which we all lived like kings. And one would hope that we could build neurological structures that were such that we did not behave horribly.


Simply put, my experience with a lot of religious people is that they can not practice what they preach. This demonstrates that our current religions are a failure insofar as changing people’s behaviors – they enable people to make lofty pronouncements – and they bend people’s minds such that they feel they should be allowed to make laws and rules controlling the behavior of others – but they don’t stop people from being awful.


This is probably because the religious structures live in the “storyteller” part of our minds, not the “decision tree” part of our minds. Most compiled decision trees are made out of actions, not out of words.


I do not, as of yet, know how we’re going to create this new religion.  I suspect what we need is a singularity – which in this case (and yes I know there are many uses for the word) I use to mean a neural network smarter than human. A artificially created God, because there does not appear to be any natural God I would trust available to us.


It’s also possible we will achieve said singularity naturally by developing the technology that enables us to network human minds together to make something larger than a single mind.


One thing I do keep in mind is pastors of the current religions exist to continue keeping the donation buckets full, not to lead us to spiritual enlightenment – just as politicians exist to continue getting money and power, not to lead us to political utopia. This may illustrate that when money gets involved subconscious motives change. I think almost all of the religious people I know who I felt were true to their faith were not paid to be religious – even though one of them was a pastor I believe he was a volunteer.

“Why should we listen to entertainers?”

Sunday, September 27th, 2020

From time to time people speak bitterly of the political messages embedded in music from bands like U2 and the Beatles, and ask why they have to foray into politics instead of just sticking to the music. This is often coupled with asking why we should be listening to the political views of entertainers.


I have a number of thoughts on this, which I will attempt to enumerate a few of.

  1. I’m not sure that we should be. But certainly as someone who writes music I feel I should be free to write music about my opinions about political matters
  2. If we should be, the reasons are as follows:

I am someone who has done a lot of things, and I consider myself to be – based on feedback from my friends and apparent comparison with my peers – at the top 2% of intelligence for humanity and the top 10% of drive to do things. My income is in the top 2% for my country (but not the top 1%, which would require two orders of magnitude more income – see elsewhere for discussions about this). I am a fairly capable dude.

Therefore perhaps you will believe me when I tell you that learning to play a instrument at virtuoso level – not something I have yet achieved, but something I expect to achieve in the next couple of years – is the hardest thing I have ever attempted. That’s one reason – they have proven, by dint of their capacity to perform, that they have discipline and dedication.

Another reason is that of course they are a member of the human family and either everybody counts or nobody does.

But to go beyond that, let’s ask the logical questions – why should we listen to the political views of newscasters, who are hired to have great hair and sound sincere even when they’re lying? Why should we listen to the political views of *politicians*, who for the most part only got to be politicians by winning a popularity contest and for the most part are politicians because it’s easier than working for a living. (I make exceptions for people like Brian Leeper, who became a politician to fix a specific problem and did indeed fix it – you find people like this all the time in local politics but a lot less in national politics – a future essay of mine may be about the evil that is  Big Politics, which is possibly worse than Big Pharma, Big Health, and Big Oil put together – it certainly enables them to do things like killing millions of innocents in order to secure access to oil, or routinely charging tens of thousands of times the cost of production for life-saving technologies that should not even be patentable)

I guess I will listen at least somewhat to the political messages of everyone from The Who to Pink Floyd to U2 because I feel like those people had to work pretty hard to get the skills to do what they do and in the process of acquiring discipline they may also have become somewhat less of nitwits than the average man on the street. I also think they tend to be very well travelled as a side effect of their career choice, and I think travel also opens the mind.

Talking Heads

Sunday, September 27th, 2020

So, one of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot is how susceptible we are to viewpoint hijacking by talking heads.

It’s built into our hardware to decode and interpret facial expressions – which are the same in every human all around the world – and because of reasons talked about elsewhere when discussing Milgrim, most prevalently that individual subnets have no way to know whether a data source is internal or external – when those talking heads project a attitude of trustworthy authority, as many a talking head on the fake-news-as-entertainment shows loves to do (i.e. Fox and Friends), we subconsciously absorb their content with applying anything like enough criticism.

I think this partially explains how the right wing politicians in America manage to thrive despite repeatedly acting against the best interests of humanity in general and the electorate in particular.

I do not, as a rule, get my news from video sources, because I noticed how I started finding myself agreeing with whatever video source I tuned into, and also how many supposed “news” sources are in fact either heavily spinning the truth to project their own viewpoint or in some cases outright lying. Interestingly enough, it’s far more often the right that I catch doing this than the left (although certainly I can cite examples for both).

Anyway, this does partially explain how so many people who ought to know better are supporting the blatant acts of evil that are the behavior of the republican party since Nixon. It does, however, get extra disturbing when they start parroting the talking points of same when said talking points *obviously* apply to them. The people who are only alive because of medicare talking about the evils of single-payer or universal health care, for example. “The government shouldn’t have to pay for people who make mistakes” says the person who is only alive because the government does, for example. In general I find this attitude awful – “We shouldn’t share. We should be selfish and therefore *all* lead worse lives because we’re all connected. I’ve got mine, screw you. Or, I didn’t get mine, screw you.”

I do wonder to what extent the trumpanzees are going to be screaming “fake news” this morning as they discover Dear Leader is horribly in debt (and that doesn’t even include the off-the-books money he owes to the russian mob) and if he was re-elected would be the first sitting president to be foreclosed upon. A friend of mine used to talk about what a brilliant businessperson Trump was, and all I could do was be impressed at the brainwashing. (Brilliant business people generally don’t rack up quite as many court cases and bankruptcies as Trump – not to mention that if Trump had simply placed the money from his father in a standard mutual fund he would be far richer than he is now. He is a *impressively* bad businessman.)

I was encouraged to see that Swexit failed. My hope is that the pendulum of stupidity, having swung a absurd degree towards the awful, is again swinging back.

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

So, I have friend who is a Trump supporter – and can’t stop going on about how old Biden looks – despite the fact that Biden, as far as I can tell, is far more lucid and stable than Trump. One interesting thing about this person, though, is that they are supporting Trump despite regularly using public health care. I do wonder, when they’re sitting on their deathbed after Trump has shut down their health insurance, if they will feel even the slightest regret for having done that not only to themselves but to many millions of people.

The power of propaganda

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

So, tells what I suspect is a pretty accurate story about Trump’s character. We know that almost all of his business ventures have ended up bankrupt – which I think is what he’s trying to do to the country itself, so his conservative buddies can steal all of our social security money.

However, conservative news sources sell the idea that Trump is a good businessman, and conservatives buy the lie. There’s no convincing them that it is a lie – and here’s the part I find really puzzling. Over and over it Trump gets *caught* in his lies – like his firing of the pandemic team, his insistence that the pandemic would blow over, etc – and yet I can safely bet that my conservative friends have either already forgotten this fact or will conveniently forget it when it comes time to vote.


Sheer Covers Indigo Girls – Dead Man’s Hill

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

Dear Republican Party

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

One thing you don’t seem to have thought of as you continue your social destruction fest is that things generally do not travel *up* slippery slopes. Every time Mitch gallops down another level of dishonorability it brings politics in our country down another level – and it’s not likely to go back up. Which means among other things that once Democrats are in power they’re likely to play every bit as dirty as Mitch has.


You all have proven to us lefties – as if we had any real doubt – that you have no honor at all. And you’ve made the world a much worse place. I hope you feel at least a little bit of shame. You’re lucky that there *isn’t* a higher power in control of all this, because if there was any sort of karma implemented at all you all would get to experience the suffering – which is vast – that you have visited on others. With everything from wars over false pretenses to prep up the petrodollar to rigging the supreme court to tax breaks for the rich to exporting total bullshit conspiracy theories to get people who are repeatedly hurt by your policies to vote for them, you are the worst.