Fact, Knowledge and Theory


BACKGROUND
SYMBOLS, NOT REALITY
MAKING DO
THE THOUGHTFUL PROCEDURE
BEING CULTURALLY OBJECTIVE
WHAT IS A FACT?
LOGIC AND REASONING
VERIFICATION BEFORE APPLICATION


Background

The basic nature of evolution is that it is a process which depends on error (see Evolution). If there were no accidents (many of which are random) in DNA replication, there could be no evolution. All life forms suffer a small amount of chaotic change in the birth of their young (about three per birth in the human). Almost all of these changes degrade the organism. Only a few occur in critical locations. Most of those offspring that receive these critical mutations are so wounded that they die immediately. Others suffer from their affliction and either die before having young of their own or die before rearing their young to self-sufficiency. The balance of the mutations, unless culled by the environment, will collect in the species gene pool. Only occasionally does an offspring receive a mutation that tends to improve its survivability and that of its following strain. If the environment shifts, then the direction of the evolution must shift also. Remnants of these shifts remain in the DNA. In studying human construction, it appears that the ancestors of the human were aquatic animals at one time, arboreal at another, and once nocturnal.

Evolution is a non-thinking and non-reasoning process. It has no plans or goals. It does not seek perfection It seeks nothing. It happens. It is an extremely cruel process since its mechanisms are accident, suffering and death. Its products were not designed, they resulted. Such a process develops an organism with afflictions, barely able to survive.

It has been said that if a million monkeys pounded on a million typewriters, they would, in time, produce the works of Shakespeare. If, as they produced garbage, fragments of Shakespeare that appeared were saved as the basis for work from that moment on, the monkey process would be quite similar to evolution. That is precisely how the human species was produced. It took four billion years. That is also how the human brain was developed.

The human brain, the very one that we are so proud of (arrogant about), is a result of this idiot process. It contains enough ability so that the human has survived (so far). It has slip-shod and highly selective memory. It has the reasoning mechanism of a predator and enough intellect for a primitive social order in a small tribe (see The Human Brain).

Diversity, a darling doctrine of the academic elite (PC), is partially the result of the degenerative collection of alleles in the human genome resulting from an evolution crippled by human intervention and partially from tribal isolation when the human population was much smaller and transportation more primitive. It results from DNA divergence (variable allele collections in the genome). The result of this divergence is a large spread in form characteristics in the species. Such things as height, weight, color of eyes, color of skin, texture of hair, etc., vary widely across the species. That same divergence exists in the neural mechanisms. The same bell curve that describes the distribution of IQ in the human species also exists in all of the other cultural instinctive characteristics (parental love, compassion, aggression, cooperation, anxiety, tribal loyalty, sexual drive, etc.). Variations in social characteristics are so wide that the overall species must be protected with armies, police, court systems and a prison system that can hold a significant portion of the species.

The human brain is far from a perfect device. Most people will be able to survive with the one they received. A few will not. A very few others provide all of the invention and leadership. Though quite error prone, the human brain can be quite useful if held under strict control. Left to its own devices, driven only by the human base instincts, it produces a dangerous clod, a human that is more a part of the problem than the solution.

So we have a complex problem (species survival) and a makeshift tool (the human brain) we must use to solve it.


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Symbols, Not Reality

Obviously when we think of the moon, there isn't enough room in the skull for it. We can't use the real thing in our thoughts. So we think of it by using a symbol in our brains, one that represents the moon. That symbol substitutes for the real thing, but it is totally unlike the real thing. When the moon is considered, however, it is not the symbol alone that we feel. The moon symbol also carries emotions with it: smells, moods and feelings. So the moon symbol is not only a distorted view of the real thing, it carries other baggage also, baggage which is often in the way in the current use of the symbol. And, we see only the front half of anything.

Worse still, the symbol we use comes from a seeing mechanism which also has a lot of limitations. Due to the collection of adverse alleles in the human gene pool, there is a large variance (diversity) across the human population in the accuracy of the seeing mechanism. We also do not see in a continuous way. The sensing surface is divided into pixels, small increments of the sight. These are then reassembled and processed in order to form symbols of the things we see. Due to our nocturnal heritage, the seeing surface in our eyes are wrong side out, the seeing elements in effect filter a part of what we see. And the list goes on.

Usually, though, we are not looking at the moon when we are thinking about it. Its symbol may be brought to our attention from a spoken or read word. This is a case of one symbol calling for another symbol, not the most accurate way in the world to do anything. The moon may also be visualized from memory, a case of an imperfect representation of an imperfect symbol from an imperfect memory.

So we receive our information through imperfect senses and convert it to imperfect symbols, which we manipulate through an imperfect neural system which is biased by a hodgepodge of emotions and instincts. Hardly an ideal system for solving anything, much less the design of a complex intellectual culture for a complex creature with a defective reasoning system further hampered by delusions of genius.


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Making Do

So if things are this bad, how do we get by? The answer is simple. We have a marvelous reactive neural system for killing tigers (or each other) and solving the day to day survival problems, the tenacity for surviving harsh environments (be they social or climate) and enough of us have enough kids to more than make up for the losses (the excess children being another human idiocy). An intellectual creature by nature? Bah! Humbug!

To sum it up: the human is a survival creature with a very weak intellect and a very strong set of instincts.

And that's why we have wars, poverty, hunger, neural disease, bigotry, terrorists, criminals, greedy self-centered leaders, and the list is endless. As a species, we'd like to get rid of this stuff. To do so can't be business as usual. The first thing we must do is to recognize the frailty of the mechanism that we must use.

Anyone who believes for an instant that any human is capable of creating
truth in its own mind without reference to reality is a dangerous fool.

It has been said that it is a poor worker who blames the sharpness of his tools. So how does an artisan use a defective and inadequate tool? The answer is: very carefully.


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The Thoughtful Procedure

The computer age has been enlightening. In designing programs (defining procedures) for the processing of information, two lessons emerged at the very beginning:
1. It is quite easy to get the computer to do what you want it to do. It is quite difficult to keep the computer from doing what you don't want it to do. The simplest procedure may have horrendous side effects. This is a lesson that is seemingly impossible for the social engineers to understand.
2. Garbage in - garbage out. The computer is not magical. It can manipulate the input data it receives and provide the information in new and more useful forms but it can't create anything that is not in that received information. The human brain is also an information processor - and it is far more imaginative and not nearly as precise. It also is not magical. If it is to provide useful output, it must be given truthful and complete input.
The intellectual tool that is available for the modern human was developed over the history of the human by the artisan and engineer, not the philosopher, not the academic. This tool has supplied the entire technology of our present world. It is despised by the politically correct and the religious alike. It could be called 'objective intelligence', and it simply calls for four steps in the thinking process:
1. No matter the problem, self (the human emotions and instincts) must be removed from the problem, even though they may be the cause of the problem. Factual, measurable and verifiable goals with acceptable tolerances must be defined.
2. Premises must be factual (garbage in - garbage out).
3. Reasoning must be simple and direct and must include side effects. If reasoning and logic require multiple steps, divide the problem into smaller and smaller segments until each one results in simple reasoning.
4. Conclusions must be proven. The major effort in this verification process must be toward disproving the conclusions and in diligently hunting for deleterious consequences.
It took the human two million years to find this out and most don't know it yet.

Immediately, there are severe problems. In the very first step, how does one define an objective problem from subjective needs and desires? In the second step, with the known deficiencies in the human senses and neural system, how can one be sure that the premises are actual fact? In the third step, how can a complex problem be segmented? In the fourth step, how and when must conclusions be tested? Each of these will now be covered.


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Being Culturally Objective

Technology thought is objective. Goals, processes, procedures, timetables, etc. may all be assigned without recourse to human instinct. Cultural thought, conversely, is by nature emotional. Building a schoolhouse falls under technology. Building a school curriculum, a philosophy of teaching, teacher requirements, or establishing the student behavioral level rarely escapes heated controversy. Yet these are far more important as a part of the school infrastructure than the building. If these were correct, the school could be held in a barn, or in an open field, weather permitting.

Instead we now design specialized schools for particular communities. A suggestion of uniform testing brings great ire from the educators. And we experiment with every crack-pot scheme that comes along, using our children as laboratory guinea pigs.

If the human is to ever have a culture that offers equal opportunity for life satisfaction to each, the infrastructure of that society must be uniform. Certain groups of people must not be singled out for unique treatment. Others should not get particular favors. And others should not be deprived of equal opportunity. Uniformity and equality become required parameters for any universal function. This can only be obtained by adopting widespread standards. Those standards become a part of the infrastructure that every person can depend on. These can't be established subjectively, where the plight of each and every social group has separate planning. And those standards must be developed objectively (without subjective reference).

How can this be done? Admittedly, it is an extremely difficult task in a culture which caters to the individual. But then the cultural infrastructure should not be fashioned for the individual, it should be fashioned for the welfare and advancement of the species. It should not specify what fits the individual, but what will be the best for the welfare and advancement of the species.

Modern people will object strongly to such an idea, in fear of losing personal freedom. This should not be. A cultural infrastructure only contains those social functions which must be uniform, such as the basic requirements for justice, education and governance and minimum living standards. Individual freedoms which do not conflict with species welfare would still be optional.

This then is the objective approach. To group all mankind into one tribe. To ignore current ethnic and racial divisions. To establish goals, procedures, processes and timetables for the species, leaving open the individual freedoms required for personal satisfaction. Then build the necessary cultural functions to meet these objectives. And, finally, vow to be patient, caring and forgiving during the transition. So it takes 500 years. These are species matters, and the species, we hope, is immortal.


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What is Fact?

The validity of a fact (concept, theory) as used as basis in a particular argument is a matter of judgement. The utility of a fact extends through the argument and becomes a portion of the argument conclusion (solution). The truth of the conclusions of an argument can not exceed the truth contained in the basic premises.

A fact is a statement used in a particular context that can't be refuted through physical evidence within that context. The statement "The earth is flat." is factual if the context of the problem concerns building a street through a village. It is not factual if the context of the problem concerns laying out a great circle path for a long distance aircraft flight. The statement "Water is wet." holds up quite well for drinking, bathing or floating a boat. It fails miserably if the temperature is above boiling or below freezing. "One plus one equals two." is only true under certain special circumstances, such as two glasses of water at the same temperature, under the same atmospheric pressure, etc., but is quite a useful concept within those restrictions. It is not necessary to "know all there is to know" about something in order to declare it a fact. It is only necessary to prove sufficient knowledge within the context of that particular argument.

Care must be taken, however, when an argument is a segment in an overall argument of a much larger context. In this case, the facts used as basis in any sub-argument, must be true over the entire context of the overall argument. This is the major logical trap in the segmentation of complex arguments, especially in cultural concepts. The example of "The earth is flat." is useful only within its limited context. It fits the design of the aircraft hangar, for example, but if it should be extended to and become a part of the calculation of the great circle path for the aircraft to fly then it becomes an erroneous premise leading to an erroneous conclusion.

There is a practical argument against allowing "too much knowledge" about a fact or theory. Newtonian physics, for example, is considerably modified by Einstein's relativity. If one is planning a trip to Alpha Centauri at half light speed then the concepts of space/time/mass modification due to the effects of relativity must be taken into account. In terms of an earth bound trip, the extra and unnecessary complication of relativity calculations could add considerably to the asset cost of the trip.

Background basis for all statements of theory or fact (knowledge) in OneLife are given in the 'Evolution and Genetics' background knowledge section. Sufficient basis has been sought in these studies for application within the context of a human culture on earth. No attempt has been made to be exhaustive, the necessary complication is more than enough. Any further complication would make it less understandable. Every attempt has been made to be accurate, within the context limitations. Have mistakes been made? Undoubtedly! We seek the help of the readers to root out any mistakes, inconsistences, and, yes, any unnecessary complications.

A defined concept that is basic to OneLife is "A fact or theory must have real basis." It must be observable in some way. The more observations that exist which are supportive, the more observable it is and the more confidence exists in its truth. However, no matter how many supporting observations exist, the fact ceases to be one as long as a single unexplained observation to the contrary exists. This definition also limits the facts that may be used as premises for an argument. It specifically denies and forbids the use of an intangible premise. Logic and reason make no sense when based on such premises.

A basis for useful knowledge, therefore, lies in the following four statements:
1. The universe is real.
2. The earth is real.
3. Life is real.
4. The human is real.

Solution to any problem is dependent on the underlying knowledge. If there is insufficient knowledge, one may never be sure about the truthfulness of any conclusions drawn.


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Logic and Reasoning

The best laid plans of mice and men...

Cultural planning is extremely complex. Without species goals and behavioral standards it becomes impossible. These, then, become the first priority (see A Philosophy for goals and A Basis for Morality for behavioral standards). Once these are established, the work starts.

It is customary in technology to highly segment a complex problem. Each of these segments receives its own data and has its own procedure, timetable and goal specification. The goal specification of a lower segment, once verified through measurement, then becomes the input data for the next segment, etc. When, not if, a verification failure is found, the direction is reversed until the source of the failure is found.

Professional philosophers have developed an intricate and extensive knowledge base in formal logic, much in the same manner as professional mathematicians in the field of mathematics. Both are invaluable in research. Both extend the horizons of human acquisition of intellectual concepts, many of which can then be developed for species utility. Both must be used with caution in practical matters. Not that they are wrong, mind you, it's that dependence on them can, in many cases, cause unnecessary project failure. It is far safer, though a bit longer, to segment the problem into small, logically simple segments, then verify each, than to proceed through logical steps to completion where verification failure would mean starting all over.

Logic and reason, as applied to practical matters, are extremely difficult even on the most objective of projects. No matter how hard we try, subjective thought creeps in. Wanting a project to end in a particular way can bias all of the work along the way. Even striving too hard for success can turn a doomed project into a catastrophe.

The application of logic and reason in cultural matters is orders of magnitude more difficult. Human instincts arise in righteous indignation at every step, fighting tooth and claw to make sure that the final answer is emotionally compatible. Modern scientists learn their trade in an academic elitist (PC) social atmosphere. Science and dogma do not mix well. Even modern hard science is regularly distorted and truncated to safeguard egalitarian ideology. A new and widespread movement among scientists is to "humanize" science, by insuring that science does not threaten the world government, multicultural, egalitarian ideology. This is scientific hypocrisy at its worst.


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Verification Before Application

The most important function in the development process is verification. Testing the final product against its starting specification can discover all of the fuzzy thinking, faulty premises, poor reasoning, errors in scope, mistakes in design and specification, subjective bias, etc. before damage is done. No cultural forming idea should ever be installed into society without exhaustive tests.

Verification is a function that has been completely ignored by educators, bureaucrats, academics, politicians, and other self-styled social engineers. It has become traditional that if an idea sounds good and fits modern social dogma, it is slammed into the culture. When it fails, it is crutched with another that is twice as bad. No sane engineer would ever allow an untested part in an airplane, an act that might endanger a few hundred but any hare-brained idea by one of the education philosophers becomes a fad that is tried out on millions of school children. The senseless concept of whole language, for example, ignored the human brain construction (see Whole Language). Millions will never read or understand written language as well as they could, all to appease the egos of pop education philosophers, on an idea that sounded good, met the requirements of egalitarian ideology, but failed to include full and factual premises. In spite of widespread controversy, this concept has still never been tested under controlled conditions.

Verification of the soundness of a cultural idea must also include side-effect analysis, a completely unknown concept in modern culture. Human culture was formed by evolution, an idiot process, as was the human genome. Ninety-five percent or more of the human genome is genetic garbage. Human culture, formed over the same period and by the same forces, is likely as contaminated. Human society is extremely fragile and volatile. A seemingly innocuous change could result in a domino effect, causing irreparable damage to the species. Many such may have already been introduced. One of the most senseless of all human practices is to allow one segment of society to dictate under uncontrolled conditions the cultural characteristics of all others. The academics now have that control. Not only do they have that control, it is under conditions of positive feedback, one which allows error to grow without limit. See Education Dynamics for a description of this pernicious social practice. Education is a sound idea, but there are side effects which must be planned for and controlled.

"But culture is too complex," some will say, "to ever be able to test a social change ahead of time." The answer is obvious. If the change is so nebulous that it can't be tested, then it's too risky to put into effect.


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URL: http://www.onelife.com/evolve/fact.html
update 5/7/99