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How logical are you really? – Part 1: Introduction

How logical are you really? And what does logic really mean? Is it the answer to everything? Here is a nice little quote by Einstein:

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

What the hell does he mean? Well, I have no idea what he meant – whatever that means. But here’s my take. As a programmer, the answer is straight-forward to me. To create software, I must know how the underlying system works or at least, the options it offers me for controlling it. This is, in a way, a very logical endeavor insofar as I am provided with rules under which the underlying system operates. If I follow these rules – like syntax – and make use of the available commands in a clever way, I can predictably create decent software. If I were to write ecco instead of echo, the system would report a fatal error and that would be that. Where does logic come into place? Well, to me, logic is a system by which you can use and combine axioms in order to come to new conclusions. This is a very precise art – if you will – insofar as you can easily verify the veracity of the conclusion by verifying the validity of the deduction.

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What is banana?

There was a little boy. He loved to get loving attention from his parents. Sometimes he got it. Sometimes he did not. He noticed something odd, though. Whenever he got their loving attention, his parents used to say banana. At other times his parents seemed to do quite the opposite, making him feel very ashamed or guilty. It made him feel like he did not want to live. When they did this, they always said grape.

The boy had no idea what the fuck banana or grape was, but it occured to him that it had something to do with him and his behavior. He figured that if he could understand what banana meant, he could always be banana and thus always receive loving attention. If only he could always be banana and never grape, he would never have to feel rejection again.

So he tried to adapt and be banana. But it seemed that no matter what he did, he could not figure out how to always be banana. Something that was banana at one time was grape at another time.

Of course, he was too young to consciously and rationally analyse this. He just somehow trusted his brain to understand one day.

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Why you can never be absolutely certain

I remember that I read Atlas Shrugged. I remember it made me feel fuck confident. With time, the ideas in my head faded. Then I read The Fountainhead and refreshed that spirit. But something kept nagging at my certainty. I suppressed it until that little tear of doubt turned into a hurricane.

Each day I progress, I start thinking and feeling differently about things that had felt the same way for 26 years. Absolutes turn into relatives and by now, it is becoming comfortable to question myself just as the world around me.

There were times I wished for a fixed set of rules that would make me perfect – long as I followed it, anyway. Like fucking cops.

But I could never truly believe or make myself believe. At times, I thought I was going mad.

I think this is good. A person that is able to get absolutely and unlimitedly stuck in a set of ideas would make the perfect slave, but nothing else: Ready to receive the initial instruction but rejecting everything else.

So, next time you feel cognitive dissonance, do not beat yourself up for not knowing absolute truth. Rather, congratulate yourself for being too smart to actually believe in one.

For being smart enough to detect inconsistencies. For the virtue of the pain of your head when confronted with nonsense. For the ability to adapt and free yourself from lies.

If you could be absolutely certain, you would forever stay a slave of the first stupid idea you heard. So, like a player learns to love rejection, learn to love cognitive dissonance and toying with contradictory ideas.


Anti-indoctrination indoctrination

This is a tough nut cookie to crack and subversive. You are trying to open up to something new, but then your subconscious picks up on some pattern and triggers your defenses. For example, you may want to partake in a healing ritual, but then you recognize that there is a shaman and that the whole thing is demonic and evil, which closes you up to it.

Ironically, to protect someone from indoctrination, you have to make him aware of the ways in which he will be indoctrinated. But that is indoctrination in and of itself and ultimately only a safeguard for loyalty to possible bullshit.

Those weed smoking hippies are brainless and no good.

Those occult witchmasters will steal your soul.

Those conspiracy theorists are all morons who just want to see what is not there.

You learn these ideas in a friendly environment that you trust.

Another one: Men are evil, vile and selfish. The assholes will try to take you away from my safe and good teachings and that will be your downfall.

In principle, you describe human behavior typical for a belief group and then shame it or associate it with fear. If these successfully predict a pattern of behavior that would naturally challenge your beliefs, the safeguard knocks in.

Call the lion a lion to shame it. Oh, you are just being a lion here, shame on you!


What does it mean to mean something?

Some 10.000 years of human existence on this planet and the Western world is still searching for the right way to live. For the absolute truth. Curious, is it not? You would think that, after such a long time, people would have reached some kind of consensus about absolute truth.

But that is no argument to the religious nuts, of course. Each one of them has the absolute truth. And each one of them absolutely knows that all others are absolutely wrong about it. And hypothetically, it is thinkable that one of them is right. What a conundrum.

Can the reality and life be understood? Absurdists say no. Religious nuts, of course, say yes. The former think the latter are naive and stupid, while the latter actually seem to have some sort of respect for the former.

But then, what does it actually mean to understand reality and life?

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How can you prove the past?

Mike Cernovich once wrote something about memories not being quite accurate. That thought germinated in me for a while and I think it is very profound. Recently, I already speculated about the nature of knowledge. In short: How can you know what you know before you actually think a thought? During the time you are not thinking a thought, you are not even aware of its existence. Can you have confidence that next time you need to remember something particular, it will still be there?

But what happens to a thought while you are not aware of it? What happens to a memory? How can you know that the next time you remember something, it will still be the same thing? And when you remember it, how can you verify its veracity other than by your memory of it – that is, by itself?

So the only proof of the veracity of a memory is the memory itself. A memory that has possibly spent years in your subconscious, constantly affected by all kinds of stimuli. To trust that it will always be the same is blind faith!

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A world of double meanings

In the first episode of the new season of the X-Files, Mulder finds proof about something. Proof that something he had long tried to prove was in itself a smokescreen and distraction. But then this new proof in itself is turned around and looks like a fraud. Only to be reinforced a few moments later. What does this mean?

It means that everything in the world, everything about your beliefs is always the victim – or subject – of a binary distinction, a binary back and forth between true and false. Good enough or not good enough. Tolerable or intolerable. Alive or dead.

And if that does not flow smoothly from my observations about knowledge and evidence in itself, this means that nothing you believe can ever be certain, because everything you believe is – at some level of depth – based on assumptions. Axioms. Pillars of knowledge.

But sadly, not one of those pillars is absolutely secure and safe to believe in.

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What is a delusion? Past reality or genetic memory?

The doctors think I am schizophrenic, because it seems bizarre that I would get into a fight with a cop. So, am I? Well, I think I actually am. That is, I think that the extended definition that spans three papers fits me often enough. But so do some personality disorders.

Is schizophrenia a firm thing that the definition hints at or is the definition the thing itself? For example, there are intuitive concepts like an honest smile that healthy people will recognize as a distinct thing while mentally impaired may not.

Schizophrenia is, first and foremost, a word.

Is schizophrenia like a smile? A distinguishable aura that healthy people clearly see? Or is it a rather nebulous concept used whenever something a person says or does seems bizarre? I can clearly see how my behavior seems bizarre to an outsider. And yet, from my own standpoint, it seems almost perfectly logical.

Without wasting time about the question of whether schizophrenia is a real thing, let me just ask: What are delusions?

I have two or three ideas.

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How do you write a good article?

Good question. What is an article? By what I gather so far, it is a arranged collection of anything between fifty and five thousand words. These collections of words usuallly carry a small phrase called title, meant to be representative of the content. But then, if it really was representative, you would only need to read the title and not the content, right? So the title is more accurately a small teaser to elicit associations with a particular topic. In a way, the title is more of a starting point for a chain of thoughts than a basket defining the boundaries of that which is to come. A title is an invitation to a dear friend, asking: Do you want to join me in following this particular chain of thought?

But I can also see how one would like to do it right and be structured and logical. To stay with the topic. But then, how much deviation is allowed? And before I write an article, do I already know exactly what I am going to say? If the title of an article is to define the boundaries of the content to come, it seems more reasonable to write the article first, see what comes out and then find an appropriate title.

But why would you need the title to be a boundary? Well, it is neat. You have a little box called How to become super muscular and everything in there is only there to precisely answer that question. It spans an idealized harmonical arc of narration, a perfect piece of art – and yet the idea is vague and once one starts writing, one starts to wonder how to translate this elusive ideal into actual words. One could argue that in such an article about muscles, it is pointless to even mention, for instance, women. One does not need to write about women to describe the motions of growing muscles. And yet, one may mention that women like muscular guys and this may, by pure accident, be the one raindrop of motivation surplus that the reader needs to get going. But strictly, it does not belong there, or does it? It would belong in an article called How to motivate yourself to become super muscular.

But then, what if women do not particularly motivate somebody? Does the article name then not promise something it does not deliver? Well, I guess you would need to become more precise: How to use women to motivate yourself to become super muscular.

And so on and so on, until the title of the article would in fact become the article itself. Because only the article itself represents the article itself perfectly.

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What is knowledge?

If I asked you at this very moment to make yourself aware of everything you know, what exactly would happen in your mind? Would all the thoughts you hold suddenly come bubbling up? Would your consciousness hurriedly attempt to capture every last one of them, miss nothing? Or would you rather be forced to acknowledge that at this very moment, without any given context, you know absolutely nothing? And that any attempt to capture everything you know is futile?

At this very moment, make yourself aware of everything you know.

Now that you are aware of everything you know, I ask you a question.

What did you work on last year?

Before I asked you the question, were you aware of the contents of your memory that are now accessible? Was the answer to this question already a part of your conscious mind? That is, were you aware of the existence of the answer in your mind before I asked for it?

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