Lying Psychologizers

FTA 10 Easy Ways to Recognize Liars:

People lie all the time, but depending on how skilled they are, it can be difficult to determine when someone is lying to you. Do you know how to recognize the signs that someone is lying to you? Some of the signs are obvious while others are more subliminal, but there are ways to catch someone…

This article is a great example of how shallow interpretations of individual behavior have been used to solidify Psychology as a legitimate science in order to debase the integrity of rationally minded beings. It in no way takes into account the very real ways people differentiate between true and false claims on a philosophical level within their minds. It attempts to privilege certain natural, involuntary biological responses to potentially high-pressure social situations over other more socially rewarded behaviors. The article endorses this method as a means by which to ascertain truth without examining the legitimacy of any actual claims. This methodology is akin to the practice of “auditing” seen in the church of Scientology.

A far better way of differentiating liars from truth tellers is to employ the Socratic method. That is, ask questions in an objective manner such that one can accurately conclude whether the claims made by a peer carry any logical weight.

It is appealing to believe one can divine the truth simply by following a Buzzfeed-worthy list of fallacious advice, but the truth is often much more complicated. But then again, I failed to use a contraction in the previous sentence, so I’m most likely lying and should not be trusted.

See also:

Armed with a smattering, not of knowledge, but of undigested slogans, they rush, unsolicited, to diagnose the problems of their friends and acquaintances. Pretentiousness and presumptuousness are the psychologizer’s invariable characteristics: he not merely invades the privacy of his victims’ minds, he claims to understand their minds better than they do, to know more than they do about their own motives. With reckless irresponsibility, which an old-fashioned mystic oracle would hesitate to match, he ascribes to his victims any motivation that suits his purpose, ignoring their denials. Since he is dealing with the great “unknowable”—which used to be life after death or extrasensory perception, but is now man’s subconscious—all rules of evidence, logic and proof are suspended, and anything goes (which is what attracts him to his racket).

Women Don’t Owe You Anything

Policy Mic – 37 Men Show Us What Real Men’s Activists Look Like

Ultimately, the #YesAllWomen rallying cry reached more than 1 million tweets in the days since the tragedy, outlasting even Kim Kardashian’s wedding on Sunday. But women are not the only ones frustrated by our society’s institutionalized misogyny. So many men, too, reported feeling disgusted by the attitudes of the shooter and his alleged peers, the “men’s rights activists” that not only influenced Rodger, but publicly predicted more violence if men aren’t given what they want.

Men deserve their own space to talk back to these “activists.” Here is just a small part of that response, but you can find more responses or post your own on the hashtag #AllMenCan, because all men can have respect for women without ever becoming less of a man.

I have mixed feelings about this evolution of the #YesAllWomen discourse that has sprung up in the wake of the recent events in Isle Vista, CA. This piece in particular makes some good points, like MRAs are full of bullshit, and that all men should take part in speaking out against violence toward women.

Last weekend someone told me that they grew up with the mantra, “It’s a man’s job to respect women, and it’s a woman’s job to give men something to respect.” I have a real problem with the idea that it’s a woman’s job to give men anythingRead More »

Hashtag Activism

via Urban Dictionary:

The kind of activism undertaken when you “do something” about a problem by tweeting or posting links to Facebook, without any intent of ever actually doing something. Nothing more than a nonsense feelgood gesture so that one can say they “did something about” whatever trendy cause they’re pretending to care about. Usually only lasts a week or two before the cause is completely forgotten (i.e. it stops being cool to forward/retweet on the subject).

I forwarded a video about some unspeakable atrocities in a country I didn’t know existed until I watched the video. My hashtag activism is going to accomplish something!

Hashtag activism may not be “the answer” to our problems, but it’s a pretty damn good way to follow and contribute to a dialogue that may very well result in the discovery of some worthwhile solutions.

We certainly need to go further than tweeting and writing Facebook posts simply to satisfy our egos, but that doesn’t mean you have to shit on the work that people are doing just because they include hashtags in their social media posts relating to a cause they legitimately care about.

I’ve written in greater detail about utilizing hashtags (and Twitter in general) as a tool for organizing here.

Subject of a Straw Man

When engaged in a dialogue, it’s important to avoid the use of logical fallacies. It can be easy to rely on a logical fallacy as a shortcut for arriving at a seemingly well-reasoned conclusion, especially if your opponent doesn’t realize what you’re trying to pull.

However, proper Philosophy—the practice of argumentation with style—does not permit such sophistry. Flagrant and intentional use of logical fallacies is a key indication of a disregard for normative discourse ethics, which are paramount to the success of any dialogue worth your participation.

Always remember that an argument is valid if and only if (iff) it is impossible for the premises to be true while the conclusion is false.

One common logical fallacy is the straw man. According to Wikipedia, the Fountainhead of Knowledge:

straw man, also known in the UK as an Aunt Sally, is a common type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and to refute it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

In other words, a straw man can be used to “win” arguments by arguing against something other than the actual position an opponent is progressing. You may be interested to read more about the structure of a straw man argument here.

Do yourself and those you hold in high rhetorical regard a favor: avoid the straw man. Work hard to craft robust and original arguments of your own that are true to both the positions of you and of your opponents. That way, when you win an argument it will be through sound logic and impeccable style, not through slight of hand or smoke and mirrors.

Discourse Communities

it’s your choice, what you believe.
it’s my choice, what i believe.
we don’t have a right to each other’s choices or beliefs.

decolonization iii, nayyirah waheed (via nayyirahwaheed)


Except if we’re part of an epistemic community. In an epistemic community we might not share most of our beliefs, or even acknowledge the same methods, but we have a common goal, such as truth (it doesn’t have to be true, a substitute goal —such as rational assertability— will do) and we want to pursue it together. Since we both share this goal, I want to hear your critical opinion, especially when you think I might be going astray (since I don’t want to believe false things, or to acquire beliefs using unreliable methods). In order for this community to work we have to act upon certain duties. If I say a statement, and somebody doubts it, I (ordinarily) have a duty to answer her questions.

However, I’m not saying any two (or more) persons have to be part of an epistemic community. Two persons that are part of the same country or even the same village need not be part of the same epistemic community (liars, opresors, etc, do not share my epistemic goals, or even if they do, they do not want to pursue them with me, they only want to exploit me).

However, for the rest of cases, even if we don’t have a right to each other beliefs, whenever we are part of a community of inquirers we do have a duty.

(via fuckyeahlogical)

The idea of epistemic communities is interesting, but I think discourse communities are more useful. They’re similar concepts, but rather than sharing epistemic methodologies they share a set of discourse ethics.

This means that although we may come to different conclusions about any number of things, we share a common way of expressing our beliefs and in engaging others through that expression. We have shared values about what’s on the table for criticism, and what’s not, as well as how to best go about expressing that criticism. We agree to a shared communicative method, that when practiced, honors intellectual diversity as long as it’s authentically and respectfully expressed.

In other words, members of a discourse community attempt to progress sound logos via the expression of shared ethos. It is literally the practice of argumentation with style.

Members of an epistemic community share a methodology for discovering truth or creating knowledge. Members of a discourse community share a methodology for engaging in a dialogue that includes valuing the use of disparate epistemic methods.

Emergent Virtual Constructs

The term virtual construct is used here to denote a non-physical, digital, artificial form; the interaction with which is made possible through a human/machine interface. The term software is often used to refer to virtual constructs, but in many cases proves to be of limited use. Indeed, software can be classified as virtually constructed, but the term loses much of its significance when referring to emergent virtual constructs, whose properties are difficult to pinpoint, as they extend far beyond the boundaries of the software used to create, modify, and interact with them.

There are two types of virtual constructs: discrete and emergent.

  • Discrete Virtual Constructs (DVCs)

The majority of software applications shipped today can be classified as discrete virtual constructs. Generally “feature complete” with all necessary resources contained within the application itself, examples of discrete virtual constructs include word processors, image editors, calculation engines, and even some single- and multi-player video games. Software developers may periodically issue updates to DVCs that add features or improve stability, but DVCs overall lack the ever-evolving natures of their emergent cousins.

Discrete Virtual Constructs live locally on the hard disks upon which they are installed, and carry out a user’s commands by taking advantage of the local machine’s computational resources. They may include a limited feature set requiring network access, but these are not the DVC’s defining characteristics. Most DVCs would be able to carry out their intended functions without ever connecting to the internet.

  • The Nature of Emergent Virtual Constructs (EVCs)

Virtual constructs are metaphysically unique forms in that in some sense they are otherworldly. Unlike spirits, gods, and other supernatural phenomena, virtual constructs surely exist as part of the material world, but we don’t interact with them or through them as such. Not only do virtual constructs physically appear to exist nowhere in particular, but they also have the ability to exist in more than one place at a time. They can be accessed on every desktop computer and smartphone simultaneously, yet the absence of their presence on any one of these devices in no way affects the existence of the construct as a whole. The existential nature of virtual constructs is as complex and contradictory as that of the now defunct conception of an omnipresent god-like being.

Where does a construct like Twitter or a virtual world like Minecraft exist? It can be said with certainty that they do exist, but where are they? They span vast distances, occupying disk space on servers across the world; servers that can be geographically located and physically accessed, but in no way can one point to a set of atoms and say “That is Twitter,” or “Here is Minecraft.”

Indeed, one could theoretically collect the entire complement of servers upon which every instance of World of Warcraft is stored, but even then it would be absurd to refer to an array of rack-mounted servers and claim “That is World of Warcraft.”

This is because a reductionist approach to the explanation and identification of emergent systems is absurd. For this is the very idea of emergence: that properties metaphysically necessary to the system as a whole are not, and cannot, be found in the system’s constituent parts.  Emergent virtual constructs cannot be understood by studying the interactions of particles at the atomic level of a hard disk. Nor do these constructs begin to take shape or show characteristics uniquely identifiable as virtually constructed until level upon level of complexity is added to the system.

Recall now the concept of the me in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash (257). In his search to understand the ancient Sumerian civilization, the novel’s hero, Hiro Protagonist, searches long-forgotten recesses of the Central Intelligence Corporation’s archives. In a conversation with the Librarian, a virtual research assistant which is itself an example of an EVC, we gain valuable insight into how emergent properties within virtual constructs can mimic those within a civilization:

HIRO: “Execution? Like executing a computer program?”

LIBRARIAN: “Yes. Apparently, they are like algorithms for carrying out certain activities essential to the society. Some of them have to do with the workings of priesthood and kingship. Some explain how to carry out religious ceremonies. Some relate to the arts of war and diplomacy. Many of them are about the arts and crafts: music, carpentry, smithing, tanning, building, farming, even such simple tasks as lighting fires.”

HIRO: “The operating system of society.”

LIBRARIAN: “I’m sorry?”

HIRO: “When you first turn on a computer, it is an inert collection of circuits that can’t really do anything. To start up the machine, you have to infuse those circuits with a collection of rules that tell it how to function. How to be a computer. It sounds as if these me served as the operating system of the society, organizing an inert collection of people into a functioning system.”

Here, the Librarian has identified the me as an emergent property of civilization, and Hiro likens it to the role an operating system plays in the overall functioning of a computer. Emergence is manifest in the society through the me, and in computers through the OS.

The me–the operating system of society–is metaphysically essential to the civilization, but it cannot be identified within any constituent part of the civilization. Without the me the civilization would cease to be. Buildings, roads, people, etc. would remain, but without the governing, life-giving force of the me, the civilization would crumble, and what would be left would be something quite different. Further, the me cannot be created nor destroyed simply by adding or removing those constituent parts. Made manifest only when the entire system works together in harmony, this emergent property, the me, is the lifeblood of the civilization. Found everywhere is evidence of its existence, yet nowhere can the property itself be isolated and identified.

Just as Hiro Protagonist interacts with and utilizes emergent virtual constructs as tools to combat the rapidly spreading virus Snow Crash, we too now live in a world of EVCs that empower us to accomplish epic feats once found only within the pages of fiction.

  • The Classes of Emergent Virtual Constructs

As opposed to the static nature of DVCs, EVCs exist in a dynamic state of agile development and constant growth. Emergent virtual constructs are defined as virtual constructs containing the property of emergence, which is manifest today in four classes of EVC.

Examples of Emergent Virtual Constructs include:

  • global social networks that empower personified thought leaders to propagate individualized epistemologies
  • expansive virtual worlds capable of single- and massively multi-player gameplay enabling the creation of virtual economies and diverse learning and/or social environments
  • software employing extensive use of cloud-based computational resources and artificial intelligence
  • vastly distributed, democratized, and collaborative knowledge projects

The rapidly increasing significance of emergent virtual constructs on our daily lives and their impact on the future progress of civilization is the defining force of the New Era of Tech.

Until next time, I hope to hear from you. Goodbye.


Know Thy Quantified Self

My great-grandfather Dart lived to be 105 years old. Nearly everyone downstream of him on the family tree is still alive, including my grandfather, who was born in the 1930s and still goes whitewater rafting. Longevity runs in my genes.

That said, the last 20 or so years of Grandpa Dart’s life were less than pleasant. Although set financially, and cared for by his children, Grandpa was mostly deaf, almost entirely blind, and confined to a wheelchair by the time he passed. He had not only outlived all his friends and much of his family, but almost everyone he had ever heard of. Worst of all, he was forced to live the last 28 years of his life without his wife Olive, who died in 1983 after a decades-long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. In his last years he was granted only sporadic moments of mental clarity, but always seemed to manage a scoff when overhearing children referred to as “kids” (a word he believed should be reserved for youngling goats).

My 105-year-old great-grandfather is an outlier by today’s standards, but what if the average human lifespan wasn’t 67 worldwide and 80 in the US but an even 300 all around? What if we could extend our lives to 1,000 years or more? With advances in science, medicine, and technology, it won’t be long before centenarians outnumber those who live to be merely 90 or 95 years old. Researchers at the Methuselah Foundation go so far as to say that the first person to live to be 1,000 years old has already been born. Read More »