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Twitter Discussion About Anti-Depressants, the Mind, and More

This conversation, from Feb 11, 2018, relates to my video:

Scholarly Criticism: Jordan Peterson’s Sloppy Cite (+quotes, research)

The conversation was with the admin of Real Peer Review, which posts criticism bad scholarship in academia. They posted my video and we got into a discussion about a point of disagreement. It was a friendly debate and they thanked me for the discussion at the end.

Unfortunately, the admin account was banned the next morning (fuck Twitter) before I could save the conversation, which deleted all their posts. So here's just my side of the conversation. I think it's interesting enough to post even though there are parts missing. Most of it should still make sense.

Yes! I wrote JP a letter related to that! https://t.co/OEwLwF21sR I particularly dislike JP's repeated comment, in multiple venues, that you can tell if anti-depressants work for you by taking them for a month. (That's anecdote, not science.)

If either of you can point me to a correct rebuttal of Szasz (who wrote The Myth of Mental Illness), let me know...

People have mind-related problems, but they are not illnesses, they are different things. It's a category error – which psychiatry has used to try to justify the use of force outside of the criminal justice system.

There are, of course, genuine illnesses of the mind, like Alzheimer's. Those are not called "mental illnesses", just illnesses. It's only called a "mental illness" when it's not a medical issue.

I agree they are medicalizing morality and this confuses the issues. What was Szasz wrong about, though? You said some of his points are valid and seem to suggest some are mistaken.

I think he was right about everything, all his books are wonderful, and no one has refuted what he said. Non-specific accusations of excesses, written down by no one, are not a serious way to figure out the truth of the matter – which I care deeply about.

"Mental illnesses" are "diagnosed" by looking at and judging behavior (including communication), not medically. Life problems, including (mis)behavior and genuinely self-destructive deviance, are not biology or medicine. Do you have a counter-example which refutes a Szasz quote?

It's hard to comment on everything claimed by any psychiatrist. For now, let's stick to: depression, schizophrenia, autism, anxiety. Hopefully we're on same page about major topics here. So what's the logical argument that depression or anxiety must be biological and/or genetic?

Szasz and I deny your premise and empirical claim. You could give a cite, but I'll reply that 1) correlation is not causation 2) you don't have a medical test to identify schizophrenia 3) you can't identify schizophrenics at autopsy ... 1/2

4) you can't even correlate ventricles to schizophrenia without a way to determine who has schizophrenia (but psychiatrists disagree about that b/c the diagnostic criteria are vague – schizophrenia is under-defined).

If you'd like to discuss the matter in detail, to a conclusion, on a real forum, I'll be happy to. You just changed the topic from your claim about current evidence to about potential future evidence. 1/2

I would rethink things if unexpected facts came up. I don't expect certain facts in future. Like we don't expect to discover that gravity stops in the year 2022, but we'll both update our thinking if that happens. What'd change my expectations is addressing the reasoning for them

Szasz and I have evaluated that evidence differently than you have. We have a different framework, a different way of thinking. That's the thing which is really at issue.

suppose i'm right that schizophrenia is (mis)behavior, deviance, unwanted behavior, etc. in that scenario, would you expect it to have any correlation with some other things, including medical problems? (answer: yes!)

For those who want to read more, @DM_Berger and I have continued the conversation at https://t.co/jjeGatSDnN

can't fit my reply on twitter: https://t.co/OMZ4Qlmvkn

a few hardware bugs doesn't change the fact that many apps can be run on millions of different pieces of hardware, successfully. there is massive scope for hardware details (aka biology) to not matter to results.

if an adversary was programming something to take advantage of human brain hardware bugs, i bet they could come up with something. that doesn't stop most brain software from being best understood by looking at the software level rather than at hardware.

(i am a programmer too)

There are complex, poorly understood brain hardware glitches. But that's not what psychiatry is about. It's about stigmatizing, suppressing and controlling unwanted behavior with the authority of medical-scientific credentials. It's about social and moral issues.

Many medical interventions 4 life problems r unwise. Ppl use icecream 4 breakups, but that doesn't use reason to resolve issues. As long as it's 100% voluntary, whatever. Voluntary SSRIs merely fail 2 solve problem of getting better moral knowledge. Involuntary psychiatry is evil

For example, Rosemary Kennedy's unwanted behavior was living her life in a way that could potentially harm the family reputation. This was unwanted by Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., who got her lobotomized. Unwanted is a moral value judgement, which can be mistaken in ways bugs aren't.

yes portability can take effort, but it does work well in many cases (e.g. different ios devices with different cpus). it's always possible b/c, key point, computation is a thing in and of itself, with its own properties.

you can write an idea in a book. this demonstrates some independence!

what things of the past? they do e.g. lobotomies and electroshock, today, slightly renamed and slightly modified. https://t.co/gdqTLI3VP5 https://t.co/6jO3HOqOqR https://t.co/1BQbawn0zK

U can't judge things by non-blinded anecdotes w/ sample size 1 & no rigorous methodology for tracking results. There are other interpretations of such experiences besides antidepressants work, e.g. ppl may try harder 2 get life together at same time they take antidepressants

twitter UI sucks. i put 3 links. third one turned into preview. u expected the last link to be the one previewed, but twitter had edited my msg text confusingly. Anyway, ECT is not problem solving. It doesn't use reason. And there's no good explanation 4 what it fixes.

I also believe many uses of ECT which are claimed to involve "full patient consent" do not actually involve full, voluntary consent. No problem if you don't want to get into that though, we can focus on genuine voluntary cases.

No I'm not. I just got one PDF linked. That's it.

Theres many causal mechanisms where antidepressants play role. E.g. makes u itchy, u enjoy scratching itches, cheers u up a bit, starts ball rolling 4 progress. Theres hundreds of stories like this, some plausible. Correlation can't differentiate these stories from standard story

No I'm not a dualist just cuz I said hardware and software are different.

There are good reasons for people to (classical) liberalize their religions. There are all kinds of connections between rational thinking and good life outcomes. People run into pieces of that – their current approach leads to problems – so they try to make some improvements.

Yeah those ideas were dumb and based on bad ideology such as ageism and anti-technology mindsets. If you could point to a falsification of anything I believe, I'd appreciate it.

Nasty, controlling memes don't control all aspects of life or thought, and there are transmission errors anyway. And over time human cultures have created some defense mechanisms, figured out some ways to use reason. That's a major part of what civilized society is.

I'm happy to extend criticisms. I don't like any of the talk therapies either.

Trials are inadequately blinded (if it actually works you can't do blind trials, ppl will notice being happier & an active placebo would be a treatment). & if you don't know causality you can't tell what differences in patient situation or societal environment will change results

Ppl like all kinds of things, including cutting themselves, so why not mind-affecting drugs? Some people do like other mind-affecting drugs! The reason the success rate on antidepressants appears higher is b/c of massive pressure, bias, selective attention, limited alternatives

Negative views of video games and porn aren't mainly coming from self-reports. & self-reports of children in particular – the main victims of screen time limits, TV and video game ratings, etc – are unreliable (often manipulated by others).

Yeah I think there's lots of scope to think outside one's culture, make objective progress, etc. Also plenty of room to be passive and irresponsible and coast, go with the flow, let cultural memes run your life.

We don't have the final, perfect explanations about those things, but we do have (flawed, partial) explanations related to the causal mechanisms. These explanations have some nice features like there's no known decisive, logical refutation for why they can't possibly work.

No, the blinding problems with various internal illnesses are not the same as the blinding problems with antidepressants. When the drug is supposed to cause a mental state, and that's the point, you can't blind properly.

People with certain problems are pressured to take antidepressants and pressured to make it work somehow (or appear to work). Both by friends/family and by "medical" authorities. You have to hide behavior people think signals depression or get pressured to do normal "treatments".

They are claimed to have noticeable effects before research outcomes get surveyed. Blinding is a big problem with pain med research. But not for all drugs.

Looks like what most people believe, and doesn't address what I believe.

Of course it's an issue worth resolving. Where is the contrary claim coming from? I expressed skepticism of a dangerous category of solution about which a lot of big claims are made, based on correlation research with little regard for good explanations of causes.

There are many, many possible interventions. What exactly is the argument that partially-brain-disabling drugs are a good intervention? People were told it would work by authorities and some of them then said it worked. Not good enough! Need to discuss causal mechanisms.

I'm in favor of rational problem solving – figure out actual problems in one's life and use reason to figure out things to do about them. But most people don't really like that – it requires e.g. criticism – so they get to muddle through life with whatever else.

The purpose/function of anti-depressants is to disable some aspect of normal brain functioning. That's why they have words like "inhibitor" in their names. No one has identified the problem at a hardware level, so have no clue how to fix it medically, even if that's possible.

It's crucial 2 figure out why someone is "depressed". What has gone wrong in their life? Typically there's a million problems & poor introspection & reasoning skills. Life is hard but ppl can get better at it. & they can tolerate most problems, as all antidepressant takers do

If someone wants a more spectacular or memorable change, they have many options. Which to use depends on their preferences. Many people want to put the problem in the hands of some experts instead of taking personal responsibility for figuring it out. That often means drugs.

There are many, many different ways of talking – and thinking. Most of them aren't very good. And I certainly don't expect people to magically change their values, preferences or habits the moment they become aware of them. That's not how reason works.

That is a narrative which many people currently find comfort in. But it isn't an approximate, incomplete model of the mind plus explanation of how antidepressants could possibly do what they are claimed to.

I have a (non-final) model and explanations. All the rivals including antidepressants do too! They couldn't have decided to try those drugs instead of random substances without some reasoning. But they mostly leave the explanatory models unstated to make it harder to criticize!

Other lifestyle changes were not tracked with scientific rigor. If you can state the model which is compatible with antidepressants working as claimed, I could point out why it isn't merely incomplete but can't possibly be right.

Look the standard model is "the brain has a bunch of different workstations which are specialized to different tasks. depression is when some fuck up. antidepressants cause some results in the brain which are similar to what the functioning workstations cause".

that is not a very good story about how antidepressants work. there are better ones. but they aren't the main focus. focus is correlation research instead of improving these stories to actually make sense and give a framework to fit research into.

to make progress on these things, one must consider tons of ways to improve that story, & subject them to meticulous criticism, esp 4 decisive flaws (e.g. logical issues). Also question incomplete parts for any story that could possibly fill in the gaps better than "idk, somehow"

one of the problems with the model is the different workstations part, which conflicts with certain epistemology ideas about universality and general intelligence. these can be considered independently and, if accepted, have consequences.

i don't think empirical research is the right way forward on this issue. research always takes place within an intellectual framework. there are framework problems in need of fixing.

whether they are singletons of modular depends on the level of abstraction you're looking at. same with brain. many ppl believe in e.g. language learning center of brain (high level of abstraction module).

"since you like the brain/computer analogy" this is why i stated: "Preemptively, because I always get the same reply about this: I am not talking about brains being metaphorically like computers, and human intelligence being analogous to software. I am speaking 100% literally."

single things or modular. "of" is a typo.

If you want to present a story without modularity, that's fine. Those exist. The story needs to be written and critically considered.

A key epistemology problem is: how can knowledge be created? The only known answer is evolution. Evolution as the method of human intelligence is a single general purpose method. Its form is: guesses and criticism. This has no built in topical limits.

No, most bad ideas are rejected without testing b/c they have internal contradictions, bad explanations, etc. Testing only makes sense when you have a coherent thing which survives other criticism and says testable stuff. Psychiatry isn't there yet.

In order to say they are being helped by drugs, you need to know what you mean – have a story of what the drugs do and how it could possibly help. Otherwise you don't know the meaning of the empirical data – haven't yet comprehended it.

All data sets are logically compatible with infinitely many explanations, including ones that contradict whatever your conclusion is. This epistemological problem has to be dealt with before one can move on to focusing on research.

What else could possibly account for the behavior of squirrels and wasps other than computation? Where are the alternatives? Computation is not a thing that has any rivals, it's a basic part of physics.

The correlation of the molecule and the positive reports is logically compatible with the molecule controlling reporting behavior, or doing so much unrelated harm that people have to develop robust coping mechanisms that often work for original issue too, etc, etc.

The solution to this logical issue is to look for good explanations and create criticisms of large categories of explanations of the data. But without stories about what's going on, there's no way past the basic logical issues.

The people in the field broadly don't know or ignore this, & therefore don't make progress. They aren't doing the required next step – serious explanatory story analysis – b/c of ignorance of epistemology – the field that says how to create knowledge of anything including science

Philosophy, including e.g. scientific method, is mostly not empirically falsifiable. It is criticizable though. Putting forward testing claims or actionable advice is not my goal here. My goal is to analyze the fundamental issues properly.

As a matter of logic, of course lying is possible. It's not the only mechanism but it suffices. You can't get around fundamental epistemological-logical issues without doing philosophy. More controls and reports for experiments can't fix this for you.

Sure that one is extravagant. That has no bearing on whether or not it demonstrates the logical point. I will be happy to discuss more plausible stories after basic logical issues are settled and we have some shared understanding of what kinds of stories we should even be seeking

rejecting it as non-falsifiable is the wrong level of analysis. i said any data set is logically compatible with infinitely many causal explanations, including ones that contradict your conclusion. this is true. that you can criticize some sample explanations is irrelevant.

i was giving examples of explanations which do not contradict the data. the point being the data doesn't do all the work for you. you need things other than data. which means you need to take steps like listing and analyzing them.

i agree. systematic lying is one of the many things best addressed using non-empirical arguments. that is, one needs an epistemology in addition to their science research. and it better be stated and subjected to critical scrutiny.

there's no way around this. & the standard thing scientists do is refuse 2 take personal responsibility for epistemology issues (not their field), & also refuse 2 outsource the matter 2 any specific philosophy experts/papers/claims. so theres no real way to debate it or fix stuff

they already know most philosophy is crap. they don't have the solution. they try to get on with their research anyway. but their research depends on epistemology, whether they state and consider the epistemological assumptions they make or not.

Self-reports can be used when you have an explanation of why they're an adequate proxy for the thing you want to measure. The explanation of what's going on must be written down and critically analyzed (e.g. for bias problems). It's an important source of error, not a side issue.

My proposal seems nebulous to you b/c it'd take millions more words to seriously explain the details of what I mean. And my goal here isn't to propose something.

I've been trying to make some fundamental logical points in epistemology. There ARE solutions in epistemology. I'm not saying there's no solution. I'm saying that those solutions are the right starting point, and they matter and have implications.

If you gloss over epistemology with common sense and pragmatism, you will go wrong. Epistemology matches current common intuitions in some ways and is very counter intuitive in other ways.

There are multiple epistemological approaches to addressing potential lying or magical explanations. Some are wrong, some have consequences or requirements other than simply letting you ignore the issue and move on.

If there was no solution besides a technology we don't have, we would be screwed. You are motivated to try to gloss over and ignore these issues b/c you think they are insoluble. I am not b/c I know Karl Popper (primarily) solved them.

Many issues cannot be settled scientifically. That doesn't make them hopeless. There are rational methods for considering ideas besides the scientific method. The short answer is: demand explanations and criticize them. Magic and arbitrary lying are short on good explanations.

This approach, once accepted, has consequences like using it to analyze everything including "SSRIs work somehow" (which is like "work by magic"). So either the explanation can be improved beyond "somehow" and then considered, or the idea can be rejected along w/ sapient gravity

heavy lying claims, outside of some exceptions (e.g. known biases), tend to contradict our explanatory mental model of what society is like and what people are like. it contradicts our overall understanding of the world. this sort of conflict with other knowledge is typical.

it could logically be that most things we think we know are mistaken. normally we don't question everything (too much work), but we can question any given thing. it's instructive to take questions and doubts further sometimes.

the scientific method is not falsifiable. empirical falsification has limited value when dealing with philosophy, logic, morality. falsification is not an intellectual starting place, it comes from epistemology which is prior.

the correctness of the method "demand all ideas be falsifiable or reject them" is not itself open to empirical falsification. that approach is self-refuting.

getting back to lying: you need an understanding of people. when and why do they lie? if you had zero understanding then you wouldn't have any way to judge if they are lying in reports. all kinds of background knowledge gets drawn in here to address the matter.

given various background knowledge about people, & various methods of thinking/reasoning, then you can reject "lots of lying" in many cases. e.g. ask where is the explanation of why they are lying or how they decide which lie to tell? this criticizes a naive "maybe lying" claim

i am not claiming they are lying, i am claiming that none of the research data is incompatible with them lying. it takes more than data – it takes philosophical method – to reject lying or magic. the point was then to pivot into discussing methods.

& to get from there to explanations mattering – which is the thing i opened with. you've now started to talk about some explanations related to depression. but without yet enough detail for careful analysis. got a reference which lays one out well which you see no refutation of?

i happen to think self-reporting is plagued by biases and lies, primarily b/c ppl lie to themselves all the damn time, but also b/c they commonly try to avoid communications to others that others disapprove of. (e.g. some ppl didn't want to say they are trump voters to pollsters)

however i have explanations of what people are like & why – mental models and stories – which are independently checked against many other things i know, fit many principles, etc. arbitrary "maybe lying or magic" stuff, without detail, is easy to criticize for lack of reasoning.

when more detail is added, then those details can be criticized. making up viable stories, while being wrong, is actually hard when every aspect is getting criticized.

Logical compatibility with data is not the proper standard for belief. Instead it's roughly: what problem does this idea solve? how does it solve it? any criticism saying why it can't work? any criticism that's a bad problem to solve?

all 4 of those things are explanation oriented. empirical falsification is less fundamental, it's governed by a prior framework. it comes up e.g. in a "why it can't work" reason. e.g. "your idea relies on X theory of physics to work, but X was refuted by experiment Y".

antidepressant research focuses too much on correlation – on finding some data that doesn't contradict their claims – which isn't useful. instead of on carefully writing out what causal mechanisms are imaginable (given, yes, existing science) & using logic 2 start ruling some out

Story: it's a culture where lying is highly stigmatized, so most ppl don't lie most of the time. So, unless special exceptions are brought up, it won't be 62% liars. Much less. This is independently checked in various ways, e.g. the infrequency of ppl being caught lying

where r carefully considered proposed mechanisms written down, good enough 2 survive non-empirical criticism & b worth testing? & every study of "we drugged ppl, they self-reported it worked" is finding some correlation data that doesn't mean anything without explanatory context

if you want a fuller answer to that matter you could read Popper and Deutsch https://t.co/aj7zu3XInD or ask on the FI forum ("Discussion" link on top) which is more suitable than tweets.

is there one you don't see anything wrong with and can link to details of?

The appropriate thing to do in that case in write down what things from what columns, which is then itself an explanation, in its own right, which may or may not be any good.

This link doesn't address the basic issues: what is depression? what are the actual problems and observed human behaviors and symptoms? how do monoamines affect that? what is the causal chain to get from the chemicals to high level stuff? it doesn't lay that out.

brought about how? you're not giving any explanation of what's going on.

Yes. You can simplify some parts with unknown as long as the category of thing you're saying can account for the results and makes sense. But you need to actually explain it in order to have some context in which to interpret research data, and to provide a target for refutation.

The hardest part is how it gets from signals outside the mind to changes in the mind (in other words, how it crosses the gap from hardware to software). This is actually easy in general b/c you just program the software to check certain inputs and do things based on them.

But humans are trickier b/c they interpret all inputs according to changeable ideas. Different people interpret the same inputs in different ways. So the explanatory story has to get into culture, ideas, etc and relate them to the chemicals. Or deny that and give alternative.

It's logically impossible to interpret data without an explanation. Your choices are to try to state the explanation and make it not suck, or to hide it and assume it without analysis.

You're having trouble giving an explanation b/c you're focusing on certain difficult details which are not necessary to a simplified, bigger picture explanation.

maybe. but that's your problem, not mine. i'm not the one claiming biological explanations are the answer here. i think depression is ppl getting overwhelmed with life, having hard problems, getting stuck, that kinda thing. my explanation starts and ends in the mind.

no research refutes this, & it has no crucial explanatory holes where we can't figure out how it could work. meanwhile you want to claim some complicated stuff with brain chemistry, etc, etc. ok but then it's on you to figure out how that could work. (or on the experts saying it)

e.g. u could say: we aren't born with a blank slate. we have some preprogrammed interpretations of different inputs to the brain. we can change these, but most ppl are lazy and leave the defaults. they build up complex emotional-behavioral reactions on top of the defaults

depression is when there is a hardware malfunction that causes certain inputs to the mind which are viewed and reacted to very negatively. the complex interpretation was developed in the past when those signals were rare, and wasn't designed designed to be changeable.

the reason it works across different ppl semi-reliably is b/c so many ppl (not all) stuck to the inborn defaults. antidepressants get the brain hardware to stop sending the negative signal (or lack of positive signal, whatever).

there are various things wrong with this explanation, but at least it is an explanation. it's the type of thing needed at the very start.

I haven't tried to produce a method, let alone done testing, and I don't agree efficacy has been measured very well. Again: you cannot judge victory via mere correlation, it requires explanation.

You don't see any connection between unsolved problems + pessimism about solving them and being sad/unhappy/etc? People like success and dislike failure. A problem is an unwelcome thing; a solution is better by their own values. Basic stuff. I think you know this.

yes, making a viable explanation of depression involving biology is hard. i was just trying to demonstrate what an explanation looks like, not make a correct one. i don't know a correct one and i have theory reasons not to expect one ever.

where is the better one than the crappy example i wrote?

you literally don't even know what you did or didn't get – or should or shouldn't want – without an explanatory framework to interpret those things within. you are constantly using hidden, unstated explanations which are being shielded from critical discussion.

this is 100% the norm and is one of the reasons 90% of science is trash.

sure. lots of ppl don't get depressed so that doesn't contradict what i'm saying.

i wasn't trying to give an explanation of how things inherently must be, just of a somewhat common thing that comes up for some people in our culture. lots of people, for cultural reasons, take various kinds of adversity, failure, struggle, etc, quite badly.

OK. Not an issue for me. I don't think depression is due to inherent reasons.

it's not mysterious. you stated why. b/c they have a different attitude ("BANZAI"). some ppl interpret a problem like "oh no, now i'm gonna suffer" and some ppl are like "ok a challenge, i can do this, or at least die trying". different attitudes, different results.

this isnt exactly it. this is low resolution version of type of thing going on. this is a type of thing that could possibly have results like those observed. there is no gap here where you can't see any way it could possibly work at all. whereas biology story isn't that developed

ppl learn attitudes from parents, schools, books, tv, etc. also think of their own. result is: complex, varying ppl with some commonalities of attitudes across portions of groups. what's the problem? u know how this works. u cud easily tell example stories about ppl getting ideas

we could zoom into details about how Joe was bullied at school and didn't have control over his own life to solve the problem (e.g. stop going to a school which permits violence), and then what sort of rationalizations joe developed to cope with life.

life is so complex u need to look at overview and also survey some details. takes too long to cover anything. you can check any areas you suspect of being problematic though.

the results of people encountering certain ideas has significant variance, but it's not purely arbitrary and random either. the ideas have some content which can be evaluated using e.g. reason. the ideas can be more or less logical which affects uptake. can have some manipulation

ppl's paths vary. i can only give examples of the kinds of things that actually happen, not someone's full life story. u keep saying it doesn't have to happen that way. true. so what? that doesn't stop it from happening and doesn't prevent there being reasons for that to happen.

you're just refusing to take on board the logical issues with correlation and causation (you took X drugs and felt better at a later time – and you assume the drugs worked)

i think depression is cultural (an attribute of some but not all cultures), not an inherent thing about all minds. so no it doesn't have to be that way.

getting into where our culture's ideas come from, and why they are this way instead of some other way, is a big topic but there is a lot known about it, and it doesn't suffer from a retreat from explanation like the SSRI ppl.

some ideas contain persuasive arguments which persuade people. some ideas are backed up by pressure. do you understand these mechanisms for why a person might take on board an idea? do you see they are not arbitrary or random, even if not super consistent?

you can't tell me how they work in the most basic overview. just "it works somehow". no better than "god did it".

that is not a refutation of my position, nor an explanation of yours. so it doesn't matter. (and i meant logically possible cultures, not current ones on earth. and having an allele isn't cultural!)

we don't reliably know every detail of everyone's life. but there's no fundamental mystery here where we don't see how something could happen at all. that's a step up from having no explanation at all.

i did not make empirical claims about that. you're attacking stuff i already disclaimed. and why on earth would learning about violence make you violent? prima facie, the more you know about violence, the more you'll reject it! violence sucks.

you have to consider the mechanisms that will get someone to accept an idea. exposure to violent TV doesn't even present the idea "you should be violent" let alone e.g. give a persuasive argument or pressure ppl into it.

at low level, ppl do information processing of incoming ideas, and have some initial inborn (but changeable) ideas/algorithms/etc (which include some RNG). u can easily come up with pseudocode for how this stuff could work. not unimaginably mysterious.

at higher levels of abstraction we run into human concepts like logical analysis of ideas to see if they will work to accomplish our goals. so you can see, in the context of a person with certain understanding of logic, certain goals, etc, how they could analyze an idea.

you can drill down on the context and look at where they learned their understanding of logic, what alternatives they considered, etc. it's hard to track IRL but it's not mysterious to check what their teachers said, what ideas about it kept getting implied on TV, etc

overall, understanding the world takes effort and requires sophisticated tracking of different levels of abstraction and organizing the information. and we won't know everything, but that doesn't stop us from having some real understanding.

you're presenting a bunch of skepticism of understanding of much of anything about humans as a biased tool to defend the glaring lack of explanation for your favored ideas. but u don't really mean it. you deal with ppl and understand all kinds of things about them.

it doesn't require that. it's a shortcut b/c our culture knows a lot of stuff that is transmitted as common sense. you can replace particular pieces of common sense, if you want, with carefully thought out analysis. i've done this in various cases.

we know they're somewhat stable b/c approximately all the ppl have functioning general intelligence. this makes sense evolutionarily – the selection pressure was to get intelligence working.

you mean i related my ideas to existing knowledge which many ppl agree with and have thought about and failed to refute? yes that's a good thing.

while i don't know everything, i could spend literally months telling you how this stuff works in increasing detail. meanwhile you can't even get started with an initial explanation for your claims.

corporal punishment is not reason. it doesn't seek the truth about the right outcome and make that happen. it doesn't treat the conflict as a disagreement. all this stuff is irrational and is teaching the kid that irrationality is how life works and there's no escape

this gets into connections with epistemology, liberalism, and other major areas of knowledge. you can learn about all of them and put it together to understand what's going on and why. i have.

i am not claiming everyone is the same, so who needs "stable" (by which i think you meant the same for different ppl). biochemical is related to e.g. building the brain in the first place and setting up initial programming, and that is done based on genetic knowledge.

but that doesn't mean that genes are destiny. the genes program a flexible platform that allows for the creation of new knowledge – e.g. Critical Rationalism – that is not in our genes or chemicals.

all of those ppl are in different situations, not identical situations. of course you should expect variance, even if you don't believe in free will on RNG internal to the mind.

i think you're asking "why" at the wrong levels of abstraction (too low level). looking at higher level concepts is more enlightening here. low level matters you get answers like "b/c the laws of physics say so" (and why is physics that way? i don't know).

the original issue wasn't even why but how – what sort of mechanism enables it to happen at all? not "why did the mechanism get X result instead of Y result in this case?" but merely what is a reasonably typical scenario where X happens?

that's either incorrect or leaving out a dozen layers of abstraction and complexity which make all the difference to actual outcomes.

genetic evolution didn't program the way adults think. if that was in our genes, what would we have school for?

ppl create and refine methods of thinking, and use them to learn all kinds of things which they then factor into future thinking, in ways that are not determined by our genes. if u wanna think of it like a neural net, fine, but a generic general purpose one.

genetic evolution gives us the most basic API of function calls for thinking, on top of which we put dozens of layers. and our biology doesn't know how those layers work, so SSRIs can't control high level thoughts (thoughts in terms of layers near the topic of the complexity)

memes had selection pressure to figure out how to gain control of minds so they could control enough behavior to ensure passing on the memes to the next generation. in the past the world was full of static societies where ppl were controlled by memes, not genes.

hardware + initial OS installation doesn't have a chance at controlling much when there's very highly adapted software that is running on top of it, exploiting security flaws, calling whatever functions it wants, etc, etc

no they can't. that's like saying you could bias what my web browser does, without knowing anything about it, by changing some low level detail. you'd have no idea what to change to get what effect.

read "antidepressants" or "drugs" or whatever instead of SSRIs. same logic applies.

logic and good explanations have some level of stability to the kinds of variance you're talking about. there's convergence to truth, it's not all arbitrary.

genes can code for things like more/stronger pain signals when the butt gets a physical impact. but they don't know anything about higher level concepts like spanking or how to deal with parents. they can only affect basic stuff which has many layers of interpretation on top

you wouldn't be able to bias it in a designed, goal-oriented way if you couldn't read that code and figure out how it works. if you had to design your bias before the code was written, and you didn't even know what kind of app it would be, then you'd have very limited options.

genes are older than memes, let alone older than the 20th layer of memes. genes are so indirectly relevant, it's like an API you abstracted away so long ago you forgot everything about it. and the memes have code to handle gene variations and adjust the API to fit.

no good, you have to design everything before the browser has ever run. the vast bulk of gene evolution is very old.

converge to truth can increase without limit. we're making ongoing progress. but there are many open disagreements, unknown things, errors, etc, which limit convergence so far.

what really limits it is you only get to do things there is evolutionary selection pressure for, and once memes exist, very little of that (b/c they meet the selection pressures first). so basically you just get to exist, and then get pwned by memes, and that's it, no competition

why? which part?

the arguments for objective truth are not a matter of evidence. you can read books about them if you like.

i'm saying the right comparison involves you finalizing the CPU before the browser exists. of course you can exploit the browser, even through 50 intermediate layers, if you get to do a bunch of testing and use creativity to figure it out.

memetics as a field in general is utter crap, but that is not a criticism of what you get if you actually understand evolution and think things through logically, and read @DavidDeutschOxf

it's way too complex (& with too much variation in higher level software complexity btwn ppl) to realistically random walk to anything that works. would need a better dev and serious coding work environment to deal with the complexity level.

memes are within my expertise and are the kind of thing i've been making strong public claims about for over a decade which no one can/will refute.

Elliot Temple on March 11, 2018


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