[ExI] What can be said to be "wrong", and what is "Truth"

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Sat Oct 4 20:00:53 UTC 2008

On Fri, Oct 3, 2008 at 7:53 PM, Mike Dougherty <msd001 at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Oct 3, 2008 at 8:17 PM, Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> wrote:
>> My point was that we lack any objective reference for knowing the
>> relationship of our model of reality to absolute reality, so it's not
>> even meaningful to ask the question.  The scenario can't be modeled.
>> It has no answer, unless you like "mu".
> Ineffable.  Too right.

I'll observe here that even when I try to deal with the explicit
feeling in that statement, I don't really know what to do with it.
"Too" right, means...what?

So, right on!  ;-)

But, I would argue that a reference to "the ineffable" is not a
reference to anything.  This in distinct contrast to a reference that
is to nothing.

> "an evolving model of truth without incoherent assumption."  My
> assumptions are only incoherent to you in the way your assumptions are
> incoherent to me.

What a satisfying symmetry that must be!  But on what do you base its

>  I believe the purpose of discourse is to find
> coherence between these assumptions to the extent that we share
> membership in the same "model of truth"


> We can discuss physical laws,
> we can discuss observed trends - we probably would not attempt to
> discuss ethics or try to convince each other of the merits of our
> favorite TV shows (or of merits of TV at all)

I would argue strongly that all of these are on a continuum, but, right on!

> this is a good place to answer your first question from an earlier
> reply re: redefine the objective point of view.
>  In this example there is sufficiently large corroborative authority
> to verify the subjective measure to the physical laws of (for example)
> gravity that I am entitled to share the consensus understanding of
> what is repeatedly observable or I can be excluded from the
> normal-thinking group to make unprovable claims about why objects fall
> to earth.

Wow, that was a mouthful!  Rather than "redefine the objective point
of view" we could use the term "inter-subjective", or, my preference
would be to enlarge the context of the system of interest to encompass
the multiple subsystems and thus continue to reason about in the same
coherent terms.  This preference for not introducing new terms
unnecessarily is a basis for my frequent use of "increasing" or

Key point is I'm not redefining "objective" but showing that no
workable model of "reality" requires that additional hypothesis.

> There is not enough consensus authority by repeatable
> observation of miracle healing.

Well, consensus, and authority have no direct bearing on the truth of
a model, so I would prefer to leave out these extraneous terms as
well.  But I would agree that claims of the truth of "miracle healing"
are lacking in evidence to the extent that they should scarcely affect
the distribution of probability mass within any "rational" model.

> To those who claim it has happened to
> them there is no amount of "rational" explanation to make them
> renounce their believe.

Yes, nearly any arbitrary system of belief can appear coherent, within
a particular context.  Any system will act exactly in accordance with
its "true" nature within its environment.  But we can expect that with
increasing scope of interaction with its environment, the system's
model -- the context within which it makes sense of its observations
-- must tend to increase.

> Is there subjective experience of a miracle
> an incoherent assumption?  To you and I perhaps, to their internal
> model it's valid and we are the incoherent ones.

I think I've addressed this above.

> I asked for you to explain from the position you have espoused to
> date, how the belief in an objective point of view became the crutch
> that so many lean upon for their stance on X issues.

I think it's pertinent to point out here that I don't conceive of any
agent using their inherently limited model of reality as a crutch to
lean on.  I see each agent acting *perfectly* according to its nature,
without the incoherent assumption of a "self" independent of its
nature such that it can use it to lean on, or to use the more common
example of this sort of incoherence:  a self independent of its nature
such that it makes decisions in regard to its nature.  We simply act
according to our (present, but evolving) nature, within a given
environment.  Period.

> You have
> suggested that I cling to ideal Truth.  I have tried to prove that
> objective "Truth" is one of many tools for exchanging ideas- no
> different (imo) than understanding the proper use of "heaven/savior"
> when conversing with Christians or "Samsara/Nirvana" with Buddhists or
> "Singularity" with Extropians and Transhumanists.  I sought your
> insight into the how and why objective truth was ever perceived to
> have utility despite your claim that it has no inherent validity.

I think I've repeatedly referred to the utility of such heuristics,
and their natural and to-be-expected occurrence in an environment of
adaptation with aspects so unchanging as to be *effectively*
objective.  As I've said so many times already, in the bigger picture
there is no objective "right" or "wrong" but only the relative
effectiveness of models of increasing coherence over increasing
context.  An information-theoretic way of looking at this is in terms
of the increased fitness conferred to a system that gains little or
nothing (in terms of the persistence of its pattern) from additional
information in its environment and therefore can avoid paying that
cost.  This dimensionality reduction, or compression via heuristics,
can be seen as essential to the core economics of intelligence, but as
the co-evolutionary game evolves to higher levels of order, so must
our (conceptual) equipment evolve to higher orders of effectiveness.

>>>> <snipped>"improving our problem solvers" <snipped>
>>> Yes.  I accept your proposition.  I am convinced.  No doubt many of us
>>> have felt this way without being able to express it as you have.  What
>>> now?
> * in your first reply you asked, "Of what?" - to which I laughed.
> Hyperrational, huh?  I thought it amusing (fwiw)

>  If you have already written a a thesis or something, I
> would certainly read it.  (email, or post URL)  Can you break that
> statement down into chunks, explain each piece then build back up to
> the level of clarity you're trying to express?  I feel your words were
> chosen for deliberate contexts that I do not share completely enough.

As I said earlier, a few years ago I embarked on an exploration of
what it would take, and quickly came to realize I don't have the
available time to accommodate the rapidly compounding branches of
explanation necessary to connect with my intended audience.  I then
considered the advantages of the less rigorous vehicle of speculative
fiction, but I'm not an efficient writer and most of my time the last
two years (and at least the next few) is dedicated to the launch of my

> I think there is value in what you are saying.  I think this exercise
> is illustrative of the framework-building that we need to exchange
> idea-dense concepts.


>  I've been interested in this kind of analysis
> for 15 years.  Few people I have met possess both the patience to
> build that bridge and the persistence to firmly hold an idea until the
> bridge is usable.

And I lack the time, and perhaps the patience...

>  Whether you ever feel anyone else deeply
> understands the point you are making, I feel the attempt at
> communication helps us refine our content delivery methods.


> Maybe
> that's what you mean about shifting away from expected consequences to
> focus on improving methods?

Perhaps partially...

> I don't mind being told that I am
> mistaken, but I also don't know what understanding is correct if it is
> never acknowledged.  Sorry; drifting off-topic again, which means I
> should stop now.

And this is about all the time I can afford for now.


- Jef

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list