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August 20, 2013


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Hi George, thanks for your further post. We can leave our last few posts as summaries on most matters. Following up your "one last go" post, to break it down in a different order:

1) you say that knowing my background might help your procedure
2) without an outline, you cite your blog as a resource
3) you don't understand my critique, and find my phrasing opaque
4) you query my use of "single vector", also inevitability (burden of proof)
5) you query my meaning for "power structure"
6) you clarify your likelihood of doom, and describe my "hope"
7) you consider 'social and political theories' to be "failures"

Thanks for posting your views on 'social theories'. The 'science vs social theories' debate is a gargantuan task, but I'd like to post a very limited discussion later. It is clearly relevant to our disagreement, though indirectly - it isn't involved in my initial criticism (what I see as a lack of societal modelling). Some responses to the other areas...

(1) my background for procedure:

You explain how knowing my background/status might be useful. I understand what you say but my approach in this case is still as I outlined in my "final procedurals" paragraph. I'll give a bit of my background if I post on 'social theories' (I'm science/eng background - I can understand what you've written). Just to clarify one wording:

...My identity shouldn't have any bearing - ideas are ideas (ad hominem covers this). ...
...BTW: an ad hominem is when the attacker impugns the reputation of the other and has nothing to do with wanting to know the background from which the other comes from.
I know the typical use of 'ad hominem' means 'abusive ad hominem', but I wasn't referring to that specifically. When I said "ad hominem covers this", I meant that the meaning is contained in the theory of 'argumentum ad hominen', specifically 'circumstantial ad hominem' - that the reasoning should be independent of the person's identity (for critical reasoning, not other contexts).

(2) your outline or resources:

And I believe I have provided a sufficient amount of evidence and reasoning over the past many years to be fairly confident. Several times I suggested that what you were asking me to do had already been done and was totally open to critique.

...I have spent a number of years extracting a variety of threads of scientific data/information, used system dynamics reasoning, and documented all of that here in these blogs. An outline per se is not forthcoming. If you are truly interested in understanding how I came to this conclusion you are more than welcome to read everything I've written in QE that relates.
Because you haven't presented an outline/abstract/model of your reasoning for your prediction of 'doom', I have attempted to outline the necessary subsystems for such a prediction. (I'm not treating it as logic, just some form of justification.) I have read several articles on your blog and some of your Sapience Explained and you have plenty of material on the 'top' (crises:CC,etc) and the 'bottom' (biology:sapience) subsystems/layers. I found no material on the 'middle subsystems' (social, etc.) and I have raised this from various angles. If you could point to resources that would deal with these subsystems and what you conclude from them, I could try to address that. But we haven't managed this, so perhaps we don't have the time.


(3) my critique and phrasing:

...totally open to critique.
Cannot the same be said of you and your position? You imply that debate is the result of my failure to change my mind based on your critique. But I reiterate, I do not understand your critique (see below).
I have set out my position a few times and from a few angles. I am focussing on only one aspect, which I can summarise in three sentences:
  • To predict an outcome for humans you would need to model the systems which have effect on that prediction.

  • I can see you have a 'bottom' layer for human sapience (individual biology), and a 'top' layer - an understanding of the environmental/technological crises which might cause doom.

  • I have not read any description of the subsystems/layers in the middle: behavioural; societal; economic; political.

I cannot assess or critique your opinion without knowing the model for your prediction. (I have attempted to make a model, but I can only guess your assumptions.) I have also countered that a change in 'power structure' in these middle layers is the route to survival (though only in simple terms as an example alternative).

I simply do not speak your language and the semantics of many of your phrases is opaque to me.
...I have tried hard to find the reasoning and tried hard to grasp the meaning of your terms and failed.
Sorry to hear this, I do try. We could have tried to address what I wrote - you did raise a couple of phrases in your last post that I try to answer below. I'm sure I am easier to read than a typical postmodernist, don't dismiss me into that basket (I don't fit in those baskets). I think time is needed to consider unfamiliar paradigms, we just lack the procedure.

(4) 'inevitablity' framing, my "single vector" = no mediation

I already suggested that I saw no inevitability in the sociopolitical processes, while you seem to see it as a single vector from your sapience model. [trim]
More evidence that you must believe you are providing adequate arguments. You, personally seeing no inevitability is not sufficient to argue that there is NO inevitability. The term "single vector" must have some meaning to you that is, I suspect, different from my interpretation (language).

The context here is my critique of your prediction, so the "NO inevitability" thing is the burden of proof problem, so I refer to my earlier post. But to reiterate: I don't need to present an argument to say that something might be possible (is unknown) because that is the default starting point == no prediction == null hypothesis. Also, if our context is 'problem solving', then the default assumption would be to 'do something'. You do need to provide an argument/justification if you predict an outcome, especially if you draw conclusions from that prediction. (This 'burden of proof issue' is separate to my outline for survival.)

I was saying 'vector' in the dictionary sense - a magnitude with a direction. I.e. that you have a subsystem model of sapience from which you draw inferences about capacity for behaviours. I was saying these inferences can be seen as vectors toward the problem domain (the crises/solutions, notionally at the top of the entire system). The direction of the vector is toward better or worse outcomes, the magnitude is the strength of the effect. If a 'vector' from a lower system is not mediated (modified, including emergence) by the social-societal-economic-political layers above it, then it is just a "single vector" which passes through them (or maybe a bunch of vectors, if they are not mediated then they might be aggregated). Your vector(s), as I see it, is then applied directly to the problem domain at the top - the technical crises/solutions. (I used 'vector', in this sense, only to highlight the problem I was raising at this abstract level of critique.)

Here is an example of why I am inferring a 'single vector', you said:

...the reason that people pursue self-interested power structures is precisely because they do not possess adequate sapience!
Whereas I have set out alternative mechanisms for changes in power structures (such as my 'A/B hypothetical outcomes') based on contingencies/opportunities/efforts (not species capacity). As is reflected in history - the question is the degree to which different historical processes reflect a capacity for real solutions in the future (we didn't get that far in our discussion).


(5) "sociopolitical structure"

But the reality for me is that you have not provided me with adequate explanation (e.g. what is a sociopolitical structure) of elements of your argument for me to respond to them.
By "sociopolitical structure", I mean no more than it implies - the social structure (relations) of political power (dictionary: 'sociopolitics' as "the interaction of social and political factors"). In more detail, the social components (individuals, groups, classes, institutions, states) as structured by their relations (wealth, power, information flows, status, whatever), with a focus on political process. (The 'structure' will have an enviroment/context: technology, economics, culture, events/contingencies, etc.) As a term 'sociopolitical structure', I don't imply a specific model, method or interpretation. I try to use standard terms - the same meanings as in a dictionary or on Wikipedia.

(6) your 'likelihood' of doom, my 'hope' of survival

...I see the likelihood of collapse and die-off as quite high (>90%). I acknowledge that "something" could intervene that none of us could know about that would change outcomes.
My main comment on this (and how I frame 'defeatism') is in my 'final thoughts' section. Your 90% refers to technical chances, understood. The conclusion I'm critiquing is your conclusion that we humans can do nothing to save our species. I.e., that the probability of current and future efforts to increase our survival, is effectively zero (e.g. less than one in a trillion chance). I have queried this explicity with an approximation of moral worth of trying to save the species (at 250 million lives per person making an effort), but you haven't commented on that.

You seem to hold out some hope (sorry don't know what else to call is since by your own admission you haven't really expanded on your reasoning/evidence) that something called a sociopolitical power structure can somehow be aligned so as to do this minimizing. You certainly could have at any point offered an actual vision of what that would look like. Merely saying you "see" it as possible doesn't quite inform the rest of us as to the basis of what you see.
I set out my position in enough detail for you to critique, but you haven't addressed it. I could repost all those relevant statements in one post if you want to consider them.

Regarding "hope": I've outlined that I think we have a chance - this alone means that if we are using critical thinking then my opinion is just that - an 'opinion' (or position, viewpoint, a 'conclusion' as a working opinion, whatever). To be unable to reference my opinion as 'opinion' and choose the term 'hope' is prejudgment (a psychologism, as I addressed the same problem in two earlier posts), it is not critical reasoning of the subject itself.

Thus, if you spend effort trying to preserve civilization, in the short term, against the odds as they stand, then you are wasting your efforts...
The 'norm' at the moment is that people recognise the need for change and make some efforts (large or small) to, in loose terms, 'make their leaders do what needs to be done'. My view is that this unfocussed approach is ineffective (which is similar to your view). But I have stated that we could survive if we target a change in power structure (in the similar sense as happened historically during the transitions from feudalism to capitalism - though the drive for that was primarily the economic transformation due to technology). You are saying that all such efforts are a "waste of effort". This is the significance of our disagreement (the motivation for my critique, but not through blind hope). I still can't guess why you are so emphatic on this considering the moral significance (as I evaluated with my 'moral worth' calculation).
And there is really nothing to be done about the long-term extinction of H. sapiens. Such an effort would be foolish to the extreme since extinction is the fate of all species.
For me, this is an exercise in futurism. I take a different view, that if we survive the next few hundred years, our 'lives' won't be structured by biology but by technology instead. But that's another topic. Yes, one way or another, our species will be finished soon. If we don't 'survive', you have an interesting take on what can be contributed - I would want this pursued in parallel with survival efforts (with a focus on the latter).

I was interested to read your views on 'social theories', I would like to post a few ideas on this later (not a full treatment).


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