I recently watched a response video to the widespread “2016 was the worst year ever” tantrum largely by people who’s view of history is shorter the time the iPhone has been in existence, where the content creator ended his video with the statement “No, 2016 is not the worst ever, your frame of reference is“. I had another post planned, but that statement is perhaps more profound than the creator intended when he recorded it.
Frame of reference can be argued as a synonym for “field of knowledge“, which is an expression that is used within academia and is of high importance when designing research projects. In order to avoid duplicating the research that has already been done within a field of knowledge (unless one is doing a verification of previous research), a literature search is conducted to build the foundation for the research. It also serves to anchor the research that is to be done within the field, and to support choices the researcher makes.
When the researcher then designs the methodology, the experiments, and the other parts of the full research project, the literature review acts both to inform and to control the research. In the same manner, a person who has a narrow frame of reference, will hold attitutes and make decisions different from someone with a wide frame of reference, a person with a deep frame will view the world different from a person with a shallow frame and so on.
In many ways this is the underlying principle of just about everything humans engage in, and a source of many conflicts. A researcher named Thomas Kuhn argued that as each person who evaluates evidence, brings their subjective field of knowledge and experience with them into the evaluation, science is somewhat of a relative discipline .
Some of this can be traced back to various forms of bias and incentives. A researcher who has invested his career into a theory will be reluctant to accept that it has been proven wrong and have clear incentives to interpret results in a manner that is positive to the theory. Likewise someone who is invested in an ideology will be reluctant to accept any evidence against the benefits he or she perceives that ideology as having.
This is where one gets the “Not real communism” from those who advocate communism when they are presented with the tragic history of the countries that have attempted to govern according to that ideology. Continue reading
Usually when someone seeks to change something with their life, regardless of whether it is a minor or major issue, the same methods tend to be applied. Extreme methodology applied for a burst-style period of time. For instance, people who seek to drop excess weight gained over a period of years, seek to drop this weight in a span of weeks or months. People who have been neglecting one part of their life for years, seek to rectify it in a flurry of excessive effort, without a focus on efficacy.
Likewise, people love to hunt for simple, smart solutions, to complex and convoluted challenges, without regard for the destination they seek. For instance, changing your life from one where you consume too much, and too poor quality food, tends to be one where people make radical changes rapidly, disregarding the longer term perspective.
The combination of these two tendencies, trends towards short sighted strategies, and simplistic solutions. When one approaches a problem that must be tackled long term, with complex and multi-variable solutions, from the short-term perspective and a simple solution, the inevitable failure leads to a person being worse off than they were initially. Continue reading
I did something I promised myself I would stop doing on Twitter the other day, I made a snarky remark about climate change. I wasn’t going to write about the ensuing debate, or the topic itself, as it does not fit the nature of this blog, however, then it struck me; climate change and the red pill have many things in common. They are both issues that have strong components within both facts and policy, both are emotionally loaded and they tend to involve policy solutions that have unforeseen and negative consequences.
The reason why I tend to avoid issues like climate change is for the simple reason that they are highly emotional issues. In addition, many of the climate change adherents are pushing policy, and predictably engage in typical name-calling rather than discussions regarding underlying principles.
This is very similar to discussing social issues, where statements of a red pill nature frequently can have you branded a misogynist faster than a 35 year old single girl empties a box of wine. Continue reading
Perhaps it is a little conceited of me to steal the title of Mill’s classic work for this post, however it seemed the only title apt for this train of though. Recently, I’ve been reading and viewing many historical documentaries, and it made me think of what actually constitutes liberty. We live in a modern world, with the internet, and the human freedom index, which shows the Western Democracies as the most free in the world relating to its metrics. Yet, they also have the highest volumes of laws and regulations of any nations in history. In fact, one of the major contentions in BREXIT was not only the volume of laws and regulations, but also who was permitted to influence their passing. Laws are rules that are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, with the social institutions having the power to coerce people into following them. After all, law without enforcement is moral philosophy.
However, this seems to be a contradiction to me, that the most free societies are also those with the strongest rule of law. The United States has 5000 Federal criminal laws with 10.000 – 300.000 regulations that can be enforced . The European Commission passed a total of 49,699 laws between 1993 and 2014 . The UK Parliament So, what strikes me as strange, is the thesis that these countries are the most free while their citizens are regulated and controlled by law to such an extent. Continue reading
I often use the terms “means” and “ends” in my writing, this is a concept that I borrowed from a formulation of the categorical imperative by Immanuel Kant, which is as follows:
“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.” Immanuel Kant (Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals)
In Kant’s formulation, he is stating that in order to treat people in a humane and ethical manner, you must view the interaction with their person as a goal in itself, not merely as a method to achieve a goal. I touched on this in my post on means, motive and opportunity, which is a breakdown of the three different concepts and these are complimentary and overlapping principles. Means is the equivalent in both cases, and the result of the combination of means, motive and opportunity results in the end. You can never have an end without a method to achieve that end, a motivation for achieving that end and the opportunity to pursue that end. However, a major stumbling block many people face is that they become preoccupied with creating means, without taking the opportunity when it presents itself.
“I will go for that promotion once I have another year of experience and finish my night classes”
“I will go after this women I’m lusting after once I read another 4 books on game”
“I will renew my wardrobe once I lose another 15 lbs”
In all the above scenarios the person is putting off action, and taking risks under the guise of “not being ready” in essence they are creating creating a situation whereby failing to achieve one goal, will result in failing another goal as well. Put in another way, they are telling themselves “I will neglect to take opportunities presented to me until I have achieved another end“. I’m a major proponent of sequential-tasking and parallel tasking, however, if you line up your life as a series of milestones, with hard dependencies, you will not be capable of achieving maximum results in a time-frame. Continue reading
I was reading an article earlier where the core theme was balance between duties and choices. For instance, a labor union can strike, however then they are not being paid, an a factory owner can refuse to give into the demands of the union but then he is not making any money. In this case, you have a carrot for both parties in that if they come to an agreement they can both get paid, and a stick in the form of that they are both losing money by not coming to an agreement. These types of checks and balances are what keeps every structure in working condition because they promote stability and moderation over instability and excess. Democratic countries are often built with “majority” clauses, and/or multiple branches of government, which does slow things down, but also ensures that there is wide support and that it does not devolve into majority tyranny. Take the draft in the United States of America, every man has to register for selective service within 6 months of turning 18, in exchange they get the right to vote. This means that every man who votes for hawkish and interventionist foreign policy knows that this means that he risks being sent off to war if there is a draft. This has the effect of somewhat limiting the willingness to go to war, and encourages voting for a policy that relies on both diplomacy and force, not pure force. In the same way, if I forgot to lock my door, the insurance company can refuse to pay if I get robbed, because through my actions I placed an unnecessary and excessive risk on them. Continue reading
Stoicism and Machiavellianism are both philosophies that are very much about power in their essence. When Nicollo Machiavelli wrote “The Prince” he wrote it as a gift to his lord, a gift of knowledge gleamed from observing history, and distilling patterns into essence. I do not really know what was Seneca’s motivation behind writing “Letters“, whether he did it for himself or for others. Perhaps it was as “Ethics” by Spinoza, a thinly clad rejection of religious oppression, perhaps like Paine’s “Common Sense” it was a call to action to the peasantry to rise up against their oppressors, or perhaps it was like quite a few of my writings Continue reading