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#164- Cause & Effect A Conversation with Judea Pearl

 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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07 August 2019 17:35
 
DEGENERATEON - 07 August 2019 11:46 AM
mapadofu - 07 August 2019 10:08 AM

So we’re back to you setting impossibly high standards for what constitutes racist behavior; I thought we had gotten past this in post 3.  If you want to use very restrictive and idiosyncratic criteria to capture the meaning of racism, in effect defining it out of existence, I’m not going to argue semantics with you.  It’s clear enough to me that Trump exhibits racist behavior, so Sam’s claims of the same seem reasonable.


In short, pressing the envelope on the amount and explicitness of racism he exhibits has worked for him politically so far.

I don’t think I’m trying to set impossibly high standards, or at least that isn’t my intent.  The intent of the post was to point out how Sam said the tweets about the representatives didn’t necessarily display racism.  You say he is taking the comment “send her back” alone, but that doesn’t seem to be what Sam is saying.  Most people would point to those tweets and say “there’s all the proof you need”.  Sam isn’t doing that.  He’s saying Trump is a racist, but those tweets are not an example of this.  So that’s my main question (and maybe only one Sam could answer) - in what other utterance does trump pass the racist test? 

I’m not saying Sam is correct.  But if he has set the bar at something above those tweets, then what clears that bar?

The relevant section of the podcast is from 13:45 to 14:45 (12:50 is the start of his comments on Trump).

Sam said of telling Omar “to go back to where she came from”, (a better reproduction of what Trump actually said than “send them back”), that “it can be read in other ways”.  Sam did not elaborate on this specific point further.

I said what I said in post 6, that the statement is ambiguous if taken in isolation.

However, When I consider the three tweets together, and in the context of the rest of his public life, I do interpret this comment as racist.

We all, you, me, Sam, Twissel, are in agreement that Trump is racist, presumably on the basis of things we’ve observed. you, for some reason need to qualify it as not being “full-blown” racism, but still you must have observed things that Trump has done that make you recognize that he is racist to some degree.  Presumably, Sam could be aware of those things in order to have drawn that conclusion.

 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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07 August 2019 20:07
 

And for some reason you don’t feel the need to qualify it.  Let’s say a 24 year old male has sex with a 17.5 year old Brittany Spears.  He’s a child molester.  Then you have a 58 year old who has sex with a 12 year old girl.  He’s a child molester.
We all agree they’re both child molesters, but i feel the need to describe the degree of their pedophilia. 
If you want to say Trump is a racist and that’s all we need to know, so be it.  I’m just not satisfied with that position.

 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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07 August 2019 20:22
 

You say tomato, I say tomato….

If you think it’s important to go into the hows and what’s, I’m perfectly happy to delve into the nuances of how Trump is racist.  In what ways do you think Trump is racist?

[ Edited: 07 August 2019 20:36 by mapadofu]
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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07 August 2019 20:36
 
DEGENERATEON - 07 August 2019 08:07 PM

And for some reason you don’t feel the need to qualify it.  Let’s say a 24 year old male has sex with a 17.5 year old Brittany Spears.  He’s a child molester.  Then you have a 58 year old who has sex with a 12 year old girl.  He’s a child molester.
We all agree they’re both child molesters, but i feel the need to describe the degree of their pedophilia. 
If you want to say Trump is a racist and that’s all we need to know, so be it.  I’m just not satisfied with that position.

The 24 year old is only a child molester in the context of the those who dislike him (girls family, religious nuts, the self-righteous etc) and are looking for something they think they can use against him.

[ Edited: 14 August 2019 00:31 by GAD]
 
 
Twissel
 
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07 August 2019 23:17
 

In October 2016, Harris wrote a blog post on why Trump is worse than Clinton (and Harris is no Clinton fan):

https://samharris.org/trump-in-exile2/

Maybe it helps explain where he is coming from.

 
 
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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08 August 2019 11:40
 

I was listening to the housekeeping segment again on youtube (a clip of the show titled ‘sam harris responds to shootings….).  Something was edited for this version (but not on his homepage version).  At 14:48 on his homepage, he states “a Washington Post opinion editor accused Nancy Pelosi of dog whistling”.  On the youtube clip, it has been edited to say “Omar, AOC, etc. accused Nancy Pelosi of dog whistling”. 

Wonder if he got some pushback from the WaPo editor?

 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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13 August 2019 23:55
 

Forgive me for nudging in with a comment on the podcast interview. Carry on.


Mr. Pearl shows promise as a semi-trioonist. At 28 mins or so, he casts the three perceptual gleans of trioon as “seeing, doing and imagining”.

“Seeing” our primary stimuli is followed by observing what we’ve seen and finding corollaries until “observation changes belief”. I suppose that is a “do thing” and qualifies as a description of our Cinematic Perception. He draws an accurate line between a perception that makes us a picture and a perception that makes corollaries and contrasts of it. Then, there’s the really impressive part.

Instead of piling more characteristics onto doing, he cites “imagining” as a third thing to do. It is “considering the impossible, the what-if’s and mights have been”. Wouldn’t that be a capacity to re-sequence our cinematic perceptions and re-invent what happened or could happen? Together, they cover the basics of the trioon machinery in action.

Granted, Mr. Pearl is not describing a trioon structure but his comments re: “time is symmetry” had me waving pom-poms. Then things took an upward turn into the usual totem pole-like idea of emergence where it is easy to imagine these inner-mental experiences as emerging ‘up’ like a thought balloon with no way for anything that happens up there to come back down and impact something on a blood and bone level. One can only conclude that emergent thought balloons are of no actual consequence and are for entertainment purposes only. At best it is a replica of processes and decisions made deep down where consciousness cannot reach.

That is the creed of the Cult of Zero. This model inflates instead of unfolds. It is like suggesting that if you build a car factory, cars will emerge from it. No, you have to run the machinery. Likewise, if you run seeing, doing and imagining in three de-correlated time-frames, there is no need for emergence or a totem-pole. How does the thought balloon feedback to the blood and bone? Both “seeing” and “doing” have the ability to steer OUR EYEBALLS. There is a distinction to notice.

It was an amusing episode full of cross-generational befuddlement.

Is Trump a racist? It’s in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? Most folks with racist-like views re-define racism as something they are not. Their’s is hate-free or they cite the lack of foam around their mouth. Even when it is hard not to notice it. 

 
 
jjbl
 
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jjbl
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25 August 2019 20:17
 

Starting at 46:24 Sam poses his “Final Edge Question” from John Bockman’s series ( https://www.edge.org/the-last-question-5 ):

00:47:00
SamH: Is the actual all that is possible?  Which is to say: Is possibility an illusion?  Is there ONLY what is actual.
00:47:35
SamH: ...I’ll put it to you.  How do we know that possibility is even a thing?

What if we reverse that.  Is possibility all there is?  Which is to say: Is actuality an illusion?  How do we know that actuality is even a thing?

00:48:12
SamH: Is it possible that possibility is an illusion as well?
JudeaP: It is.  The history progresses along one trajectory and that is the trajectory that was dictated by the Big Bang, and uh, we are imprisoned by that.

A disappointingly classical interpretation.  Quantum Electro/Chromo Dynamics, the Standard Model of particle physics, and related wave equations suggest the “one trajectory” is an illusion, artifact of certain experimental designs, or oversimplified rationalization we use to organize an otherwise overly complex and confused array of sense impressions.  In other words, a fictional story we tell ourselves.

54:09
Many People draw the conclusion from this picture of emergence that there really is a disconnect from the lower level and the higher level, and the higher level things, whether they’re minds of economic systems, have a reality that not only is not best explained in terms of its lower level constituents, or defined in those terms.  But, it has a kind of top-down causal power, so that minds DO things to atoms that can never be explained at the level of atoms themselves.  This is where I’ve always felt that something spooky is sneaking into the conversation.

That spooky thing could be a reversed view of emergence.  Consider consciousness as the fundamental actuality.  What if the unified field that can combine Gravity and QCD essentially IS consciousness.  All forces, particles, waves, neurons, and brains would then be emergent properties of consciousness.

What we model as individuals with consciousness are akin to photons of light.  When viewed as waves they are just localized features of the underlying field (electromagnetic for photons, unified cosmic consciousness for “individuals”).

00:56:31
SamH: At the level of causation, the cash value of experience has to be run at the level of the physics of things.  So there is no ... it’s not true to say that there is ever top down causation in that sense.  Neurologically there’s top down causation because there’s frontal lobe influence on so called lower structures in the brain.  We’re still just talking about the physics.  There’s no top down causation from some other layer of so called emergent phenomenon.

Why must experience be “run at the level of the physics of things”? What’s wrong with concentrating on the level, model, or perspective of maximal relevance and usefulness to the question at hand?

What if there is now top down OR bottom up, but just some sort of circles, spirals, or strange loops?

01:07:39
SamH: Something like 30% of physicists believe in the many worlds view of quantum mechanics. In that picture, anything that’s possible is happening somewhere.  [...] All of those choices are being made by the universe and the universe is splitting into increasingly dissimilar copies of itself from this point forward. It’s the hardest thing to believe that exists.
[...]
JudeaP: It never appeals to me.  I learned quantum mechanics. I know how to solve Schrodinger equation, but it never solved the problem of free will for me.  It’s a cop out.

SamH: It doesn’t relate to free will in this case.  You don’t get to choose which universe you’re in.

Choosing which universe you’re in, or rather experiencing / exploring could be an excellent description of what free will is.
Rather than choices and splitting into many worlds, think of a possibility space.  Similar to the set of all possible chess games.  There is the much larger set of all possible configurations or possible paths of all the particles and energy in all possible universes.

All are equally real and actual.  Free will is a wave in the field of cosmic consciousness surfing or searching through that possibility space and constructing a story of what the experience was like.

Complementarity can be a powerful analogy as well. The physical reality of atoms, neurons, and definite historical trajectories is the particle formulation.  Surf-searching possibility space is the wave formulation.

01:10:31
SamH: The [professional] people who believe in free will, also tend to believe not in immortal souls that are pulling the gears of biology. They believe that human minds are the product of information processing at the level of the brain. They believe that the mind is what the brain is doing.

I suppose the system I propose (or summarize / speculate about) here might fall under the “immortal souls” category.  In it, you could say the brain is what consciousness creates (or at least inhabits) in order to interact with the physical dimensions / planes of existence.

I have more thoughts, but have already spent more time and multiple drafts than intended.  Perhaps re-formulation as an essay appropriate for posting elsewhere is possible.

Here is a relevant link from a section that didn’t make the cut this time:
http://causality.cs.ucla.edu/blog/index.php/2010/05/31/an-open-letter-from-judea-pearl-to-nancy-cartwright-concerning-her-book-hunting-causes-and-using-them-cambrigde-2007/

I searched for “nancy cartright causes in causes out” because I wasn’t sure if her slogan was “No Causes” or “Null Causes”, but determined discussion of causation vs. correlation a distraction from my more metaphysical main thrust.

—jjbl = “J.B.” aka Bill Landis

 
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