Fascinated by the biographical timeline of British and French connections to enlightenment thinkers (including very influential Hume and Burke) at the time of Revolution … and his own incomplete memoir. Also for the closing remark about the relevance of the Decline to our present situation. Saving the link for the references … more(!) reading to follow-up.
Having commented on the risky – “careless” – non-PC and even misogynistic end of things, in the BrewDog situation in the previous post, I was returning to the other extreme, the crippling effects of PC-Wokeness, which is topical everywhere at the moment.
Not only generally topical but central to my own agenda about how knowledge, even would-be scientific knowledge, is distorted by a kind of PC dogma, much more so than critical-thinking sceptical defenders of science would acknowledge. And ever more so as the pace and nature of social internet communications further reinforces the effect.
A large part of the PC aspect comes from misguided ideas of (otherwise perfectly valid) “equality” of anything and everything across many different axes. Equality of rights and freedoms has a tendency to aim to flatten differences, as if they’re the problem or unimportant to the point of even denying their existence. Transwomen are women? Anyone? The idea that things have careful boundaries that matter, that help preserve genuine equalities, I call “Good Fences” (After Robert Frost and G. K. Chesterton) and have a long-standing draft piece of writing on that.
Two things happened yesterday and today that add very directly to that agenda. One is this story from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, picked-up and commented on by so many:
The depths of hypocrisy of wokeness – here in this feminism vs trans context yet again:
“What matters is not goodness but the appearance of goodness. We are no longer human beings. We are now angels jostling to out-angel one another. God help us. It is obscene.”
“Out-angel” – virtue-signalling by any other name.
“I gave an interview in March 2017 in which I said that a trans woman is a trans woman, (the larger point of which was to say that we should be able to acknowledge difference while being fully inclusive, that in fact the whole premise of inclusiveness is difference.)”
“The whole premise of inclusiveness is difference.”
To deny this is “obscene”. Vive la difference.
Nothing I’ve read better encapsulates the bad faith, purer-than-thou cruelty which permeates our culture, particularly within the arts. Nor shows how gender ideology is a quasi-religious movement. “Chimamanda is a heretic. Burn her!” But also: “bitch better blurb my book.” https://t.co/Z3Zwsg8not
Chimamanda’s story is one of bad-faith in would be intellectual interaction. This would be enough material by itself, but this second story came up that is deeply moving – taken as truth on good faith.
This original short piece in The Daily Wire, where Yeonmi Park compared her experience of Columbia University unfavourably with that of the North Korea she defected from. On grounds of the woke denial of freedom to know reality.
Followed up by this full 2 hours plus interview (with Jordan Peterson). Harrowing in so many details – an education in the school of life on so many points – so many a “too serious” privilege to hear. (Need to recognise that her book was written before her experience of Columbia University.)
Someone who understands more than anyone that equality (making everything equal) is so so different to equality of rights, freedoms and opportunities.
Finally since it’s Bloomsday, and talking about the power of reading books that don’t claim to be factual (as Yeonmi was), this image of Marylin always tickles me. At that point she is presumably reading the closing “Molly” scenes.
[Post Note: Many people picking-up the Chimamanda story, including this recommendation from the excellent Kenan Malik:
“The assumption of good faith is dead. What matters is not goodness but the appearance of goodness.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s blistering polemic on trust, betrayal and social media as performance has been widely shared. It’s well worth reading. https://t.co/soZOKmlymT
As an EquityPunk since the second round, I need to declare an interest here.
However, I read both as sympathetic and genuinely committed to something better, “scathing” but positive. Even the response, personally defensive sure, hopeful and misguided, but still positive. And no reason to deny the reality of cultish, non-PC, misogyny in the craft-beer business marketing generally as well as in BrewDog specifically. Easy to imagine.
The one thing I want to add to the debate is the more general entrepreneurial-to-sustainable transition. The cavalier approach embodied by James and Martin, driven entirely by disruptive market penetration and growth takes no prisoners and (deliberately) creates collateral damage in its “careless” wake. That was always the point of the “punk” branding from day 1.
Some of us have been pointing out for years that the reckless growth at any cost strategy was unsustainable, humanly as well as economically. There was some hope (5?) years ago when BrewDog went through some external professional management selection for senior exec roles, the revolution was televised in fact, but – I need to research this – it seemed to be short-lived and fizzle out, with candidates either not able to fit in or falling out shortly after recruitment. The perfect storm of Covid on top of difficult economic conditions for the hospitality business has simply left (real) underlying problems exposed.
I’ve been putting-off opening it up because I knew (know) as soon as I did I’d have to make space to read the whole of it. Well, dear reader, here we are.
In fact I’ve only read a few pages as I type. Apart from the blurbs I already mentioned, from Smolin and Pullman, it has an index, acknowledgements and a short further reading list. Aside from the earlier works of Atkins, Dawkins and Deutsch, the latter includes Brockman’s Edge collection of “Possible Minds” and Pullman’s “Essays on Storytelling” along with her life-partner Vladko Vedral’s “Decoding Reality“. Intriguingly it also includes Pearl and Mackenzie’s “Book of Why – the New Science of Cause and Effect“.
Of the six pages I’ve read, four are Deutsch’s foreword, one is her “how to read” and one is the first page of her “prelude”.
It’s an impassioned recommendation from Deutsch as his protégé spreads her independent wings, from:
This is a major departure from the traditional conception of physics and science more generally […] which rejects such intangibles as causation, free-will and choice as being mere psychological props, or even mystical.”
“[The lack of anything fundamentally new in science for decades is the result of] a cautious and risk-averse culture in science [where] pessimism and fatalism have become the norm.
There has never been a time when there have been more blatant contradictions, gaps and unresolved vagueness in our deepest understanding of nature […] this will require us to adopt radically different modes of explanation.”
“Modes of explanation” is key, this is meta to any specific physical theories, and the real reason for my interest in general. The “how to read” is also reflected in a reference to one of my heroes in Deutsch’s foreword:
“[Marletto argues] with great enthusiasm and precision, punctuating the non-fiction in the chapters with short fictional stories that, in a manner reminiscent of Douglas Hofstadter “Gödel, Escher, Bach”, elaborate the ideas and give the reader space to reflect.”
By Marletto’s first page we already have allusions to Dante and the Blakes Quentin and William, and a writer at home reflecting on the Red Kites’ perspective circling high overhead Oxford, England’s green and pleasant lands of the Chilterns and Cotswolds.
The idea of “it from bit” is pretty central to my information metaphysics view of reality, but I rarely use the expression, and in fact don’t believe I’ve ever made explicit reference to John Wheeler’s seminal paper that coined this view. There is so much secondary referencing in the EES and IIT sphere’s of modern science. In coining the expression, even Wheeler acknowledges “little new under the sun”, with Bohr as one source of the concept (also acknowledged here previously).
Bohr was already there, very recently mentioned here. Where Wheeler talks of our “registration” with knowledge of an empirical fact, Bohr and Whitehead (and I) talk of the “interaction” of subjective we with the objective world “out there”.
Wheeler was one of the last living links with Einstein and Bohr until his death in 2008, and there are several related video interviews with him on YouTube shortly before his death.
[Suffice to say – that’s a wonderful paper in the “one I wish I’d actually read earlier” category. Apart from himself, his first ten references are Kepler, Newton, Einstein, Bohr, Planck, Mendel, Darwin, Crick and Watson. Only one von Neumann reference and no Shannon references, but dozens of references to his own publications which no doubt include these two. One ref to J. W. Tukey which intrigues because I heard another recently. Reading list continues to grow the more I read – and boy, is Tukey’s list of stuff enormous, where to start?!? Time to start using my British Library membership, methinks. Background paper on Tukey.]
[… the term bit (binary digit) that is coined by John Wilder Tukey, statistician at Princeton University, in 1946. It refers Claude Shannon, often misquoted as the one who used the term for the first time, which, in a paper published in 1948, talks about ‘bit’ and attributes its origin to Tukey: ‘The choice of a logarithmic base corresponds to the choice of a unit for measuring information. If the base 2 is used the resulting units may be called binary digits, or more briefly bits, a word suggested by J. W. Tukey.’ C.E. Shannon, A Mathematical Theory of Communication, Bell System Technical Journal, (1948) 27, p. 380. Cfr. H.S. Tropp, ‘Origin of the Term Bit’, Annals of the History of Computing, (1984) 6(2), pp. 152–5. Source Paper about Konrad Zuse – another connection(!)]
A new overload of bookmarked pages to capture. Life remains complicated for reading and writing for domestic and work reasons, so I’ll dump most here without reading or reviewing in detail for now. Resources for later.
Philip Goff on this old chestnut … Hacking, White and McGrath all referenced (but not Anthropics …)
‘Is the fine-tuning evidence for a multiverse?’ Just recorded a talk for the parallel sessions of the Joint Session (big annual UK philosophy conference). https://t.co/9QWFVwk6D9
Great piece in Aeon from Jessica Flack at Santa Fe Institute. Day job systems thinking as well as epistemology research application for me:
“Rather than attempt to precisely predict the future, we have tried to make the case for designing systems that favour robustness and adaptability” by @C4COMPUTATION … (me too).
Complex systems science allows us to see new paths forward – https://t.co/6m5aTtgFUI via @aeonmag
Keeping Time on Entropy’s Dime
May 6, 2021• Physics 14, s54
An experiment with a nanoscale clock verifies that a clock’s entropy per tick increases as the clock is made more precise. It from Bit on the time axis?
More brain/mind behaviour from abnormal brains. Tuckute in BioRxiv pre-prints. Frontal language areas do not emerge in the absence of temporal language areas: A case study of an individual born without a left temporal lobe.
Interesting thread on Wheeler’s “It from Bit” from Jessica Flack
The physicist John Wheeler, inventor of the phrase, “it from bit” at a Princeton blackboard discussing what in nature can be quantized but as if he were looking at Walton Ford’s, “Falling Bough,” a fantastic depiction of collective behavior. pic.twitter.com/Tjd8TidMA6
I’ve been pretty clear that I reject a lot of what Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion do with their environmental climate emergency agendas. And I’m not coy about the fact a large part of my working life has been in or related to fossil-fuel and plastics businesses – my Dad worked for ICI too. But, I also have to be clear, I have no “interest” in perpetuating these, and indeed for most of the last 2, 3 or even 4 decades allwork has been towards efficiencies, reductions, remediations and alternatives.
So I want to say, this is a brilliant video created by Greenpeace. It grabs attention for a massive problem in a stunningly visual way. Various versions being shared all over social media. It’s brilliant. Shines a light on a real problem with a credibly-real idea of scale (even though I’ve not done the calcs). Well done.
What’s not brilliant about it is its anti-establishment, anti-UK-government agenda. And I say that as someone who’s no time for Boris nor ever voted tory. The knee-jerk of archetype lefty-lib-tards is to blame a tory or more generally blame them, the government, the establishment. A world with no establishment? Careful what you wish for.
At least in the UK (and much of Europe) we do massively support separation and recycling of waste. Sad to see those in comment threads attached to the video questioning whether to continue such commitment. Certainly amongst our family, friends, colleagues and wider community, the idea of littering or discarding anything not immediately bio-degradable food waste – even the smallest sweet wrapper – has been anathema all our post-war lives.
But I know from travel (and indeed living) around the world, UK, Europe, US, South America, Mid-East, South and East Asia, Asia-Pacific and Australasia in those decades that it’s an even bigger problem. There are huge communities and cultures where simply discarding disposable plastic has been the norm, long before any thought of collecting for recycle and the risk of poor arrangements for such recycling. I’ve seen so many rivers, bays and dead-end dry-land spaces simply choked with years of discarded plastic for many decades. This is cultural education, closer to home too. The amount of fast-food and beverage bottle and can discards is a cultural disgrace close to home.
Anyway, in or out of the EU, plastic production and use as well as disposal and processing will be at least partly international business for all the reasons any business involves global trade. It depends on shared standards (which is the common thread of my day-job, but I digress).
I happen to support localism, and I fully support proper economic accounting for environmental “externalities” – but with a global environment, this is yet more shared standards for global trade. It can’t just be box-ticking of offsets.
“We” have to own this as opposed to blaming “them” and looking for accounting loopholes. We are they.
Personally, apart from obviously seeking realistic alternatives to reduce disposable plastic use in the first place, I believe the right solution is to incinerate in properly regulated waste-to-energy plants, where there are no high-value recycled-product markets. And this is true whether these be at the eastern margins of Europe, say in Turkey, or in the far-east. Since we need alternative energy plants locally and we tend to be more compliant with regulations locally, and it’s easier to see locally when they’re not compliant, such waste-to-energy plants should and could quite practically be as local as possible.
If it weren’t for all the ER and Greenpeace nimby’s preventing them being built locally, that is. Attention-grabbing – even through civil disobedience protest – is fine, as well as catchy videos, but take responsibility for doing something about it.
The whole Zen <> Fundamental Physics
(Stapp, Josephson, Capra, Talbot, and even Hofstadter again)
The Holographic Universe <> Quantum Computation
(Talbot, Deutsch, Rowlands, etc.)
All in a Pirsig <> Whitehead context!
Even seems I did read some Whitehead at that time (2007)?
The thing I guess I’d missed the significance of with “quantum computing” first time, until the second time around with Rowlands, was that this wasn’t just some quantum-level property to be exploited for human-scale computing purposes (which it is) but an explanatory model being offered for fundamental physics itself. It had been staring me in the face the whole time until the realisation that corrected the gap between 2007 and 2020 was my revisiting Rowlands. The recent Marletto work is now cementing the significance in more mainstream Physics & Philosophy arenas. She is the kind of person that will attract more attention than the likes of me or Peter Rowlands.