The problem of claims

Friday, 17 October, Year 6 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

I make all sorts of claims, on #bitcoin-assets and other places (but we'll focus on #b-a). So do all sorts of other people, but who cares about them, right ? We'll focus on me!

Once a claim is made, the reaction of anyone in audience can be one of four exactly, as long as it's anything at all : I believe you, I don't believe you, this is believable, this is not believable. That's all there is, really. Now let's look through them.

I believe you is rarely seeni, and for a pretty damned good reason. That reason is commonly abbreviated as wovon, short for Wittgenstein's "Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darĂ¼ber muss man schweigen." - I trust you know what that means. It's exactly correct, belief is a personal matter, it has little to contribute to a public discussion. Intelligent, educated people do not tend to much express private feeling in public because it creates crystalisation points for the idiotic behaviours of unintelligent, uneducated people, which isn't something anyone wants.ii

I do not believe you is a lot more common, but only because the sort of idiot that'd breach the wovon wall is also the sort of idiot that wouldn't understand some key aspect or other of whatever's being said. So, inasmuch as one's likely to bring that spurious I in public, that one's statistically more likely to bring it in the negative than in the positive.

There is no legitimate use of the statement, because in all cases it can be replaced with a question, which is both more productive and less obstructive (Socrates invented this). Consider the old lawyer trick of giving a simpleton accused of something he denies an easy way out to see if he takes itiii, for instance, consider the honorable career of reductio ad absurdum, with its glorious history. No claim you disbelieve may stand together with your disbelief, so use all the bile you might need to wash the slush away.

This is believable, this is not believable are actually not in any way distinct. Rather than engaging the claim, they attempt to engage the universe. Whether in the positive or in the negative it makes really very little difference - just as if you had decided to increase or decrease the weight of all elements by five units of atomic mass, whether you aim to add or subtract is a consideration that pales in comparison to the enormity of the insanity you're living with. Seriously, make everything different, because then it'll be "fairer" ? Words fail.

This nonsense never works as such, obviously. It sometimes meta-works, however, which is to say that since humans have a vast capacity to reinterpret, and have no access to the universe outside of their interpretation thereof, well crafted nonsense can in principle and sometimes does in practice lead the audience into an alternative universe. This is how all fiction works, for better or for worse, and this is then necessarily and always how socialism works, always for the worse.

This is pretty much all there is, and what it boils down to is that the only sane response to a claim is a question, which the claimant may respond to or not. And if he does respond, that's not "a response", it's merely a further claim. To which the only response...

Some inferior intellects seek closure out of their conversations, but this is nonsense. There is no closure, there's just the endless stream of life. Consisting of claims and challenges, proceeding indefinitely straight to hell. In this context, "make up your own mind" is not some sort of empty injunction, but quite a literal requirement. If you are to have a mind at all, you're stuck making it yourself.

http://Good luck.

  1. Which does wear down on people with office, ie, people who hold a position of any kind, type or sort, specifically because "all these years, hundreds of billions of complaints, arguments, disagreements, criticisms and so on and so forth ad nauseam and like thirteen agreements stated".

    Seriously, don't take it that way. It's not how it's supposed to work. []

  2. To get a better view of this problem, look for the occasional derp all lost in there. Without the very strong signal of "group like" he's come to expect, watch him beg for some sort of indication or other. What should he do ? What should he think ? What do "we all" believe ?

    The point of running a WoT in the first place is that we don't "all" believe anything. That's what defines a healthy system : that the intersection of held beliefs across the entire group is nil. Now go apply this newfound knowledge to democracy (I don't mean the current scam, I mean Athens) and see exactly how well it fits the data. []

  3. The "prisoner dilemma", incidentally, is a particular formalisation of this approach. []
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8 Responses

  1. Where does the standard "That doesn't pass the laugh (smell) test" fall in that?

  2. Re "This is believable, this is not believable", I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying that such things cannot be said inasmuch as one'd have to entirely and correctly understand the universe, and this being impossible makes such statements impossible too?

  3. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 17 October 2014

    @chett Counterintuitively, I imagine it is functionally a question. Abridged from its full form, "If I point out now that this is stupid, which avenue of making a clown of yourself will you pick ?"

    Of course, depending on the author, it may just be anything. There's no way to extract meaning out of text outside of considering its author.

    @pletzalcoatl Something like that. If it comes from omniscience then it's a banal statement that one has no reason to make ; if it does not it's then necessarily broken.

  4. This appears to leave only the avenue of silence in the face of gross stupidity. I reject that since silence is often interpreted as assent.

  5. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 17 October 2014

    What's wrong with "you're stupid, get lost" ?

  6. How did this post get written without noting there is a famous trilemma involved! Munchhausen would be disappointed.

  7. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 29 October 2014

    I guess im iiiignorant.

  1. [...] is not particularly useful, nor a particularly trustworthy basis for any serious attempt at thought.i Nevertheless, serious thought can not be dispensed withii, and so here we are, trying to make [...]

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