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Discussion: Analyzing a Claimed Contradiction

2020-04-20 on the FI Discord:

Freeze:

when people share examples of trump contradicting himself over short spans of time, is it often propaganda or is it a valid criticism?

curi:

it could be both. those statements don't contradict tho.

Freeze:

when he said hysteria mode, did he mean that the media was overestimating the virus and overreacting to it?

Freeze:

they seem to be contradicting to me

curi:

write out the contradiction

curi:

i think you could figure this out

Freeze:

the first statement seems to be saying that the press is overblowing the virus (and presumably its risk) while the second seems to be saying that the press did not take the risk seriously enough

Freeze:

and actually minimized it to the public

curi:

you're skipping too many steps

Freeze:

ok

Freeze:

hmm what's the first step

curi:

you're getting to a contradiction by vague summarizing

Freeze:

maybe i need to look up hysteria

curi:

you need to take the actual trump text and point out the contradiction

Freeze:

ok

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus

curi:

stop assuming you know which part is the problem

Freeze:

the media minimized the risk from the start

curi:

you don't need to look anything up yet

curi:

you need an outline of what the contradiction is

Freeze:

so here im taking press and media to be synonyms

curi:

make small interpretations of the text until you get a direct contradiction

Freeze:

i am adding some information to the first statement i think

curi:

x -> y -> z -> contradicts A

Freeze:

where hysteria mode could also mean they are hysterically underestimating the risk i guess

Freeze:

but i dont think that's what trump means

curi:

assume it does contradict

Freeze:

im having trouble visualizing

x -> y -> z -> contradicts A

curi:

and that your first interpretation is right

Freeze:

ok

curi:

and then spell it out

Freeze:

small interpretations of the text

Freeze:

hmm

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus
So the media is going crazy over the virus

curi:

take trump's actual sentences and then take some group of words and replace it with some other words you think mean the same thing

curi:

repeat until direct contradiction

Freeze:

the media minimized the risk from the start
the media underreported the dangers of the virus from its beginning

curi:

you changed multiple things

Freeze:

ok one at a time

Freeze:

the media minimized the risk from the start
the media underreported the risk from the start

curi:

and the purpose of some of the changes is unclear. why beginning instead of start? how does that help reach a contradiction?

Freeze:

right

Freeze:

ok

Freeze:

so only changes that help

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus

the media minimized the risk from the start

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus
the press is paying too much attention to the coronavirus
the media minimized the risk from the start
the media did not pay enough attention to the risk of the virus from the start

curi:

those steps are ok

Freeze:

not sure what to do next or how to evaluate this since these two statements seem to contradict

curi:

those statements don't contradict

Freeze:

ok let me see

Freeze:

so maybe it's that the "risk" is missing from #1

Freeze:

so the press paid too much attention to the virus

Freeze:

but not enough to its risks

curi:

the 2 statements are talking about different things

curi:

one is about what the press did in the past

curi:

one is about what the press "is" doing

Freeze:

right

Freeze:

but the first quote was in the past, talking about the present, on feb 28
the second quote is more recent, April 13, and talking about the past, presumably about a similar time to feb 28

Freeze:

so it's sort of like they're talking about similar time periods

curi:

so make modifications related to that

Freeze:

ah

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus
the press paid too much attention to the coronavirus
the media minimized the risk from the start
the media did not pay enough attention to the risk of the virus from the start

curi:

all you did is change present tense to past

Freeze:

i thought that was the needed modification

curi:

that's not what he said. you didn't make a change to something equivalent

Freeze:

to put them in the same tense

Freeze:

since they were talking about the same time

Freeze:

hmm ok

curi:

an example of a correct change is

curi:

the press is paying too much attention to the coronavirus -> the press is paying too much attention to the coronavirus on feb 28

Freeze:

ah i see

curi:

that's still what trump said

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus
the press is paying too much attention to the coronavirus on feb 28
the media minimized the risk from the start
the media did not pay enough attention to the risk of the virus from the start

curi:

so for them to contradict the second one will need to make a claim about feb 28

Freeze:

right

Freeze:

hmm

Freeze:

let me a try a change that does that

Freeze:

The press is in hysteria mode over coronavirus
the press is paying too much attention to the coronavirus on feb 28
the media minimized the risk from the start
the media did not pay enough attention to the risk of the virus from December 2019, when it started, until now, April 13

curi:

ok yeah i agree those contradict. so either one of the changes has an error or else the originals contradict. agreed?

Freeze:

yes

curi:

so now someone who thinks they don't contradict could be specific about which change they object to

Freeze:

right

curi:

and could see your reasoning

Freeze:

makes sense

curi:

the one i object is is that 'from the start' = from the start until the present. i think that phrase often means more like: from the start for a while, not forever.

Freeze:

hmm

Freeze:

so you think his second statement doesn't cover for feb 28

curi:

imagine if someone was tlaking about this 100 years later and said "from the start". would it go until the present day?

Freeze:

it wouldnt

Freeze:

i think it does go until feb 28 tho

curi:

why?

Freeze:

hmm

Freeze:

not sure

Freeze:

it just seems like a relatively short time

Freeze:

but maybe media reporting changed

Freeze:

i dont know how to find out

curi:

suppose the media downplayed it for a month and then went into hysterics. would that month of misreporting be a short time period? unimportant?

Freeze:

no

Freeze:

i think that's a possibility

Freeze:

it's possible that's what he means

curi:

so if that happened, then trump would be right?

Freeze:

i don't think we can tell from these sentences alone

Freeze:

yes he would be right

curi:

does whether someone contradicts themselves depend on the historical facts?

Freeze:

i think so yeah

curi:

logic depends on history?

Freeze:

no but im thinking that for us to figure out what he meant

Freeze:

we'd need the historical facts

Freeze:

like when someone says something ambiguous like "from the start"

curi:

suppose i said that trump was the US president in the year 2000. do you need historical facts to decide whether i contradicted myself?

Freeze:

i dont know how to find a contradiction there

Freeze:

it seems like just one statement

Freeze:

without competing parts

curi:

so ... no contradiction?

Freeze:

no contradiction

Freeze:

no historical facts needed

curi:

suppose i say

Freeze:

even if you were wrong, i dont think it would be a contradiction

curi:

1) trump was prez in 2000 2) clinton was prez in 2000 3) there was only 1 prez in 2000

Freeze:

right

Freeze:

contradiction

Freeze:

and i guess we dont need facts

curi:

do you need historical facts to decide if i contradicted myself?

Freeze:

no

curi:

a contradiction is something that woudl be wrong for all possible facts

Freeze:

ic

curi:

e.g. if i say "X and not X" there are no possible facts (values of X) that make that true.

curi:

otoh if i say "X and Y" that's false for 3 out of 4 possible sets of facts, but it's not a contradiction. you only need one way it could be true.

curi:

(the context is binary logic. X can be true or false. those are the only 2 values.)

curi:

do you know what "from X" means? (not binary logic.)

Freeze:

i think so

curi:

what?

Freeze:

in this case like a period of time

Freeze:

so it could be from x to y or from x to z

Freeze:

multiple answers

curi:

look it up

Freeze:

hmm cant find an answer immediately

curi:

really?

curi:

Freeze:

oh

Freeze:

i was trying non binary logic

Freeze:

and "from X" logic

Freeze:

Definition of from
1a—used as a function word to indicate a starting point of a physical movement or a starting point in measuring or reckoning or in a statement of limits

Freeze:

so the start point is known

Freeze:

but the end can differ

curi:

so when trump says from dec 2019, what is he telling us?

Freeze:

well he said from the start

Freeze:

i interpreted it as dec 2019

curi:

"the start" = dec 2019

Freeze:

but he's telling us that it could be from then

Freeze:

to any period after that

Freeze:

or rather

Freeze:

any point of time

Freeze:

after that

Freeze:

could be jan, feb, march etc.

curi:

he told us the starting point of something

Freeze:

yes

curi:

so what he said is

curi:

1) the media started downplaying dec 2019

curi:

2) the media did hysteria feb 28, 2020

curi:

right?

Freeze:

yes

Freeze:

curi:

so those ... clearly don't contradict?

Freeze:

hmm

curi:

could they both be true at the same time?

Freeze:

yes

curi:

does contradict mean "can't both be true at the same time"?

Freeze:

yes

Freeze:

so they dont contradict

curi:

when you have the skill to do all that analysis in ~1 second, you still wouldn't be close to being skilled enough to understand BoI.

curi:

DD has not told anyone this.

curi:

but it's very important.

curi:

if the trump thing was very very easy for you, reading BoI could still be massive overreaching.

curi:

this is very intuitive in some sense. BoI is far far more complicated than that pic.

curi:

to understand BoI you must read thousands of things that are much more complicated than the pic, evaluate them, understand how they relate to each other, etc.

curi:

more than half the individual sentences are harder than the pic

curi:

but 90%+ of the difficulty of BoI is understanding relationships between sentences, not individual sentences. understanding sentences one by one is just getting started.

curi:

to do such a thing requires a plan about how to succeed. that plan will involve things like education. but does school currently educate people to face these challenges?

Freeze:

i dont think it does

curi:

yeah. there are a lot of criticisms to make of school. but keeping it simple: which class ever told someone how to read BoI and understand it? which class ever said what steps to do, what the prerequisites are, what skills are needed, how to get them, etc?

curi:

or for any other similar book?

curi:

school maybe teaches you some of the skills you need but not all of them and especially not the bigger picture. they don't teach you what list of skills you need to read the book and why.

curi:

people need to consider 1) what their goals are, 2) how to achieve them, and 3) success/failure criteria. they do (1) sometimes and forget it sometimes or rely too much on vague intuition. (2) is even more neglected. who has considered what sort of project understanding BoI is, and what is involved in succeeded? who has brainstormed a list of what they think the prerequisites are? who has done anything to research what else to add to that list?

curi:

BoI has many arguments. they sometimes involve knowing what does or doesn't contradict. sometimes they involve more advanced things than that.

curi:

one needs to either work through the arguments one by one or be able to follow them ~instantly without any work. either you can do it in your head right away or you need to be writing down analysis and going step by step. to do write it out you need to know what you're doing, what steps to do, how to analyze. you should practice with much easier books/ideas. and then, before starting BoI, you get to at least the point that you're capable of going step by step and analyzing the book effectively.

curi:

make sense?

curi:

being able to figure it out while putting in a bunch of effort and writing out a lot of analysis is the bare minimum for being able to read the book successfully. if you don't know how to do that analysis, certainly you can't skip it.

curi:

(the context is reading to understand it. one can have other goals, e.g. reading to be impressed by how confusing it is or reading to see how hard it is, like a scouting mission)

curi:

(those goals have different requirements)

curi:

(e.g. the first one requires NOT being able to understand ~all the arguments really fast in your head. i can't do it.)

curi:

why did you leave?

curi:

~no one else can do this stuff either if you're feeling bad about that.

curi:

there are nuances like one can read for partial understanding and still get value. one can fall quite a bit short and it's still productive (for the goal of understanding the ideas in the book). we're always at the beginning of infinity and could do better. but the only ppl who have read it productively may be DD, ET, alan, ingracke. not convinced anyone else. there could easily be more ppl especially for narrow sections. it'd be unsurprising if e.g. Dawkins and several other ppl worldwide got value out of the chapter on gene evolution. but i don't know of any documented examples.

curi:

Dennis may be a useful comparison. how many ppl understood it more and better than him? and he got some personal help from me and help from FI and he's read a lot of my blog and watched a bunch of my videos and stuff, which makes it easier, gives extra help to understand it.

curi:

but Dennis is unproductive. his ideas are dumb. he's not able to understand what he's talking about well. he parrots things. he screws tons of it up. he can't add good ideas or work with the ideas or apply them in substantial new ways. if he keeps at it, his career will be a waste and a failure.

curi:

spending his whole career on this stuff still won't get anything productive done.

curi:

that wouldn't be enough.

curi:

so i classify his reading(s) of BoI as fundamentally, categorically unproductive. even if you could find, here and there, some individual sentences or even paragraphs that he understood correctly.

curi:

his partial understanding, although no doubt above zero in some ways, isn't good enough. should be viewed as failure not success.

Freeze:

i fell asleep. I'm back now. Will quote and respond as appropriate

Freeze:

one thing i wanted to ask was: can schooling ever be free of coercion? maybe if it's voluntary? but how you weed out self-coercion in students? i remember ingracke pointing out this problem with tutoring, where even volunteer students are self-coercing the vast majority of the time

Freeze:

yeah. there are a lot of criticisms to make of school. but keeping it simple: which class ever told someone how to read BoI and understand it? which class ever said what steps to do, what the prerequisites are, what skills are needed, how to get them, etc?
or for any other similar book?
none of them really

Freeze:

one needs to either work through the arguments one by one or be able to follow them ~instantly without any work. either you can do it in your head right away or you need to be writing down analysis and going step by step. to do write it out you need to know what you're doing, what steps to do, how to analyze. you should practice with much easier books/ideas. and then, before starting BoI, you get to at least the point that you're capable of going step by step and analyzing the book effectively.
this kinda reminds me of you saying (paraphrase): it's like people saying "doing long division on paper is too hard, so I'll do it in my head"

doubtingthomas:

the only ppl who have read it productively may be DD, ET, alan, ingracke. not convinced anyone else. there could easily be more ppl especially for narrow sections.
@curi what about artur ekert?

curi:

why are you considering him?

curi:

@Freeze so it all makes sense to you?

doubtingthomas:

I know of a paper he wrote with DD. When I read that I feel real overreaching. I feel he might has some good understanding of other DD ideas as well.

curi:

i assume you mean a physics paper? mb he understands the multiverse chapter of BoI pretty well. idk. same thing as dawkins might understand the gene evolution one.

doubtingthomas:

yes. it's called Machines, Logic and Quantum Physics

doubtingthomas:

I could've asked for anyone else mentioned in the acknowledgement page

Freeze:

Has ekert written or talked about any philosophy stuff?

doubtingthomas:

I see you point

Freeze:

so it all makes sense to you?
let me see if i can rephrase what i understand so you can judge

curi:

in short, everyone DD knows personally is bad at philosophy or else they would be an FI poster. he would have gotten them to participate in discussions long ago.

doubtingthomas:

i can accept that

doubtingthomas:

Has ekert written or talked about any philosophy stuff?
@Freeze i don't think so. but that paper itself can be considered philosophy

Freeze:

the analysis you led me thru re: contradiction is a core skill to understanding BoI (and probly any set of complex ideas)
one has to be really good at it such that it is very easy.
on top of that, the skill involved in understand the ideas in BoI and linking them together is much more advanced than this kind of analysis.
A plan is needed to succeed at understanding BoI.
Our current education system doesn't prepare people well enough to productively read something like BoI.
Knowing about contradictions is just one of the many skills needed to understand BoI.
If one can slowly make progress, step by step, by writing out analysis as they read BoI, then that's ok. But it's the bare minimum needed to understand the book. Anything less than that and it'll be a failure.

curi:

yes, great

Freeze:

so i definitely failed at understanding the ideas in BoI

Freeze:

but i guess i succeeded at getting curious about these ideas and finding FI

Freeze:

not something i planned obviously

Freeze:

BoI was fun to read

curi:

my comments focused on the goal of understanding the book. trying it out to get a preview and be curious is an example of a different goal that's easier to achieve.

doubtingthomas:

same is true for understanding any good ideas right?

curi:

approximately. The Goal is a lot easier to understand than BoI. but still hard.

curi:

maybe ppl are successful at a 1000x higher rate. could be more idk. hard to guess.

curi:

@Freeze so next steps?

Freeze:

not sure

Freeze:

i was thinking of making that tree i said i would make

Freeze:

on a DD idea I liked

curi:

which tree freeze?

Freeze:

https://ptb.discordapp.com/channels/304082867384745994/482766203983626255/692813027392618672

Just make a tree about a DD topic you're interested in, with at least 3 nodes.

curi:

another suggestion: brainstorm things that'd help with understanding BoI


Elliot Temple on April 20, 2020

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