Bigsley the Oaf

I Know

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on April 15, 2013

I know a girl she’s very cold / she smiles sometimes / she wears all black / she listens to very dull music / she doesn’t smile too much / she listens to just the right music / she’s very skinny & she smokes / oh

I know a guy / he lives on a hill with his girl / he came from some suffering place / his brain is so well-ordered / he dances rarely / he wears t-shirts / he smiles big & goofy / oh

I know a girl / she’s made of candy / if you eat too much of her, you get a toothache / she has colorful hair / she smiles a lot / she has good circulation, but she gets cold sometimes / your arms fit around her real nice / oh

I know a guy / his face like a stamp / circle glasses / curvy smile / reads all the “right books” / hot girlfriend / probably isn’t happy / doesn’t seem too happy / sweatpants, sweatshirt / real casual / oh

I know a girl / she’s a tragedy in wait / she’s slowly rotting / she’s gonna collapse and then what / to the streets with her / a ghost waiting for her dream to come / she could have been happy so easily / oh

I know a guy / neurotic / brookline jewish / reads / reads / reads / dunno what he loves / if he loves / dunno why he keeps living / oh

There’s a lot I don’t know.

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Big Big Thing

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on April 15, 2013

I have a big big thing I want to say, and these ten+ years of writing have been an attempt to say it and goddamn it I keep feeling like I’m getting close but then I’m not any closer – not any closer – not any closer – it’s like

it’s like 

it’s like

CAN’T YOU SEE YOU’RE LIMITED

JUST STOP, EVERYONE STOP

it’s like it’s like

way out past nihilism where there’s something real again, that’s where we can meet, but we can’t meet there unless you go through nihilism – can’t you see that it’s the gulf separating you from what really is

If you stare into the sun your eyes will burn, but if your eyes stray too far from it you will see only shadows and reflection, so where to look? 

Close your eyes and look into yourself, deep deep

DEEP DEEP DEEPER DEEPER

Nothing comfortable, ever –

Every anxiety, every sigh, every pain, every breath, is a chance to finally turn yourself inside out and goddamn it

WHY CAN’T YOU SEE THE BIG THING?
WHY CAN’T I SHOW YOU THE BIG THING?

Toward A Structural Theory of Thought Disciplines

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on April 8, 2013

Is there a word which generalizes the following concepts?

– Science
– Mathematics
– Philosophy
– Religion

I’d like to refer to these as thought disciplines. Each carries with it certain properties which relate the thinking efforts of an individual to the efforts of a community.

—–

In science, one conducts experiments in order to gain data, which data is communicated to the community. One also forms hypotheses which model the data and which are used to guess future data. If one can form reliable hypotheses, these hypotheses are promoted to “theory.”

In mathematics, one combines statements which are known by the community to be true to form new statements which the community collectively knows to be true. Such a combination is known as a “proof” and its validation is distributed among trusted members of the community.

In philosophy, one examines the basic stuff of thought/experiment and attempts to communicate the results of this examination to the community. If the individual members of the community can validate the examination by repeating it on themselves then such an original examination becomes part of the basis of the community’s collective system.

In religion, certain members of the community (priests, monks, etc.) examine spiritual phenomena, validate it via their own internal processes, and then communicate this information to the masses, who may or may not be allowed/able to contest/examine this information on an individual basis.

—–

What properties belong to the intersection of these disciplines? Each has an associated community. Each has an accepted means by which products of thought can be validated and then disseminated within the community. Each has an additional means of dissemination of these products to the “masses.”

—–

What properties differ amongst these disciplines?

The structure of “authority” differs.

Scientific authorities are “scientists.” If you disagree with a scientist you are likely to be shot down rather quickly. However, unlikely many religions, science has a fairly low bar for entry. Because the content of science is material and because material is observable by most, most have the necessary means to participate in science in at least a cursory way.

Mathematical authorities are “mathematicians.” The minimum requirement to become an authority you must understand the underlying rules of mathematics (logic). As soon as one understands the basic rules of logic one can begin validating proofs. However, to become a successful mathematician (a high authority) one must also make major gains in intuition about what is true. One must not only prove things but also prove interesting things.

Philosophical authorities are philosophers. However, if you disagree with one of my philosophical beliefs then we are likely to belong to different philosophical communities. Because the basis of philosophy is individual belief/understanding, a difference in opinion is likely to result in a communal rift.

Religious authorities have no unifying name. It’s unclear how to become a religious authority, especially a powerful one. Because religious authorities deal with difficult and painful topics in a way that attempts to be at once idealistic and concrete, it is not always clear what personal properties lend themselves to such work.

—–

These disciplines also differ with respect to the way they structure knowledge, and the types of knowledge (content) with which they deal. I’ve often said that science and mathematics are subsets of philosophy, with mathematics the servant of science. Religion is perhaps a superset of philosophy.

What I mean by this is that philosophy deals with the totality of thought, including relationships between thoughts. E.g. a proper philosophical question might be “what is meant by ‘red?'” Another philosophical question might be “if I believe X and I believe Y, should I believe Z?”

Mathematics deals only with relationships between thoughts. Mathematics does not deal with the basis of perception or with thoughts themselves directly. Instead, mathematics talks about how ideas might be combined to form new ideas, or teased out into component ideas. In mathematics we can say: “If X is true, then Y is true,” but we can never actually say whether X is true or not.

Science deals only with relationships between thoughts, across people. If you believe X and I believe Y, who is right? The answer is: s/he who can reproduce evidence of their belief. Mathematics serves science because mathematical truths are scientific truths, but not vice versa.

The knowledge structures of religion are perhaps a superset of those of philosophy. Every statement in philosophy (and hence every mathematical and scientific statement) is potentially a religious statement. I believe that religion has the capacity to speak of things outside the realm of personal experience, however (higher things – e.g. things in the realm of interpersonal experience/transpersonal experience).

We can summarize this hierarchical theory of thought disciplines as follows:

Religion > Philosophy > Science > Mathematics.

—–

Have you ever noticed how much friction there is between these disciplines? Atheist philosophers/scienties ABOUND, the religious scorn the secularism of existential philosophy & the sciences, and I have heard quite a few scientists call philosophy “stupid and impractical.”

Of course, in my experience, almost all who scorn another discipline do so in the darkness of their own ignorance. It’s only by opening ourselves up to the principles of discipline inherent in each of these structures that we can explore space unboundedly. Until then, the blind lead the blind…

Words That People Use That They Don’t Know the Meaning Of and When They Are Said It Just Confuses Everyone

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on April 5, 2013

misogyny, misandry, racism, sexism, ethics, capitalism, liberal, republican, life, evolution, rational/irrational, alcoholism, addiction, category theory, death, time, Quantum Physics, utility, schizophrenia

New Shit

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on April 2, 2013

I started this:

http://microcaptures.tumblr.com/

I really like it. Send me your microcaptures & I might add them if they’re good.

(the password is “bigsleytheoaf”)

Metaphysics Survey Results

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on April 1, 2013

Summary

About a week ago, my friend Paul [0] and I decided to perform a little metaphysics quiz! We asked about 200 of our friends, family, and colleagues to answer ten questions:

Do you believe in the Universe?
Do you believe in Objective Reality?
Do you believe in Time?
Do you believe in God?
Do you believe in Gravity?
Do you believe in the US Government?
Do you believe in Causality?
Do you believe in Consciousness?
Do you believe in Spirit(s)?
Do you believe in Love?

Conception

We had gotten  pretty high and were having a discussion about whether belief in Objective Reality was useful. I said that I really didn’t think so – even from a purely epistemological standpoint, believing in something Objective/External wasn’t necessary. Either a belief/statement could be reduced/linked back to some set of observations (and thus is Subjective) or is not. In the latter case – where does this belief come from?

Perhaps belief in “Objective Reality” is actually an external part of the self. If I believe in God, perhaps it is another part of my “I” besides my Subjectivity.

Anyway.

We wanted to see what our friends believed in. As it turns out, not too many of you believe in Objective Reality (more on that later). We thought it would be funny to use a SurveyMonkey survey, since this is pretty low-brow and business-y, to ask about a really highfalutin set of concepts!

Thanks!

First of all, thanks to everyone who answered! There were 92 responses (including Paul’s and my own), which represents about half of the people we asked. SO AWESOME.

Summary of Results

Please see the end of this document for all the data we collected.

Some interesting observations immediately spring up!

Gravity: 

Almost everyone believes in Gravity! ~93.5% of people say that they believe in Gravity. Two people do not believe in Gravity. This is the most popular existential entity, followed closely by the Universe (90.22%). Nothing else even comes close!

Percentages: 

Here are the positive response %s in order:

93.48% – Gravity
90.22% – Universe
83.70% – Love
79.35% – Consciousness
79.35% – Time
72.83% – Causality
50.00% – Government
42.39% – Objective Reality
19.57% – Spirits
13.04% – God

One really important thing to keep in mind is that all of this data comes from my + Paul’s friends and family. This is important, for instance, when interpreting the fact that only 13.04% of you believe in God, whereas (supposedly) the percentage of the US that believes in God is somewhere around 90%.

Distribution of belief: 

Here is the distribution of “Yes” answers. The number of the left is the # of yes’s – the number on the right is the number of people who answered with that many yes’s. The average person believed in something like 6.7 things.

0  — 0
1  — 1
2  — 2
3  — 1
4  — 8
5  — 16
6  — 16
7  — 30
8  — 15
9  — 2
10 — 1

The distribution of “No” answers (no nihilists! – your average person does not believe in 2-3 things):

0  — 15
1  — 16
2  — 37
3  — 14
4  — 5
5  — 4
6  — 1
7  — 0
8  — 0
9  — 0
10 — 0

The distribution of “I don’t know” answers:

0  — 20
1  — 25
2  — 19
3  — 17
4  — 7
5  — 2
6  — 0
7  — 1
8  — 0
9  — 1
10 — 0

Correlations

Please see the second footnote for correlations. I don’t think this analysis is very interesting, because obviously more people are going to believe in Gravity & X, since more people believe in Gravity…

Weighted Correlations

Please see [3] for weighted correlations. These are interesting! Basically I just took the correlation % and divided by the expected % (% of A * % of B). E.g. the weighted correlation of “God and Spirits” is 1.277 – which means that 1.277 times more people believe in both than we would have guessed from each individually (expected). These results are interesting!

I’m not going to go into the analysis myself – you should read the data!

Difficult People!

About 10 people contacted me with some form of “I don’t know how to answer these questions” or “I don’t know what you mean by believe.” The interesting thing about belief and metaphysics is that what you are willing to say you believe in is a description of your metaphysical system [4]. From a psycho-linguistic perspective, we might even say that this is a good definition of metaphysics – literally just a map of what people are willing to say they believe in.

I am sympathetic to these people, believe me! I understand that defining “belief” can be difficult. That’s the entire point of this survey! If it were easy to define belief, then we could probably all agree on what exists and what doesn’t. The point is precisely that it varies so widely for so many people. There are almost no overlapping responses [5]. Interestingly, TEN PEOPLE said they believed in everything except God and Spirits. Huh! Massive correlation. I’d love to do some sort of cluster analysis of this data, if anyone knows how to do that.

To some degree, this set of responses is a pretty good map of the metaphysical character of the people me and Paul know. These results aren’t entirely unexpected. A decent number of our friends are scientists/atheists/etc. They believe in the Universe and Gravity and physical shit. Few people believe in God & Spirits. I’m glad so many people believe in Love, though 🙂

Conclusions:

Obviously this survey has a lot to do with me + Paul and the people around us. I think that the most important conclusions to draw are contrasts with our own expectations. I didn’t expect everyone to believe in Gravity! Paul obviously didn’t expect such a low % of people to believe in Objective Reality. I’m tired. Hopefully you enjoyed this exercise. More to come (next up – Epistemology!)

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