The philosophy thread (reminder philosophy is not politics nor conspiracy theories)

Hahahahah that’s jokes

“Err mate I think you’ve taken too much acid, what the fuck are you on about?”


Reminds of the quote “An idiot admires complexity; a genius admires simplicity”. It was uttered by a delusional schizophrenic programmer who thought he was talking directly to god through an OS he built, but it’s one of the best reminders that if you can’t at least simplify your ideas a little, nobody is going to be able to follow your specific thought patterns.

Encapsulating larger concepts into simple, human terms is really an art form in and of itself.


Was thinking recently about the dramas that often unfold over nothing, and the dangers of modern cultural shifts in encouraging drama over nothing, empowering people to cause the drama. I had a realisation which explains many confusing and accusatory interactions I’ve experienced, as well as those of a friend’s. It is about the recent cultural shift towards the intrinsic virtue of respecting and even setting one’s boundaries, but there is a vector here that can exploited for controlling purposes.

A boundary here refers to limiting the extent of others’ interactions with you, what they say, how they act, and ultimately what they do in general when in your presence. A boundary can be: “don’t touch me”, and that’s great, and generally a good boundary to set; however, a boundary can also be, “don’t go quiet on me, talk to me about any problems”, yet imagine now that person A talks about their problems, but person B starts an argument when they do, so now person A doesn’t talk about the problems as much, then person B uses that to argue that person A is now breaking a boundary by going quiet. When you experience this, it’s often quite hard to keep track of it, and can be very confusing if manipulated in a clever way. I had an old manager that was excellent at this, and in retrospect can see that this is the one of the means by which he exacted his manipulations. It was hellish, but I learned a lot about manipulative behaviour and I learned to better keep track of who said what and when, so I could figure out what he was distorting and make it impossible for him to manipulate me effectively. He came to hate me for that, but hey ho, he got fired after I managed to convince the boss of the extent of it.

It’s important to remember that a boundary can relate to indirect behaviours or even the absence of one! Which makes them incredibly versatile as a means of exerting control.

We are encouraged today to exercise our boundaries, and it is considered our human right. However, some come to enjoy the sense of power they feel when they do this, and rather than exercising a boundary because of a genuine moral principle they hold, they instead exercise a boundary, even if they opportunistically make it up on the spot, because they enjoy the sense of control they feel as a result, and perhaps even enjoy any drama that proceeds afterwards. Far from its innocent beginnings, it has become a medium through which controlling individuals can exert power over others. Whilst it isn’t at all limited to women, it appears that today’s culture preferentially supports a woman’s boundaries over a man’s, so men tend to take the position of defender, whereas other women can take the special position of being both, due to their boundaries supporting each others’. I’ve seen exactly this dynamic go down in arguments in bars and parties.

The self-reinforcing nature of this power structure makes it an especially difficult problem. It is seen as automatically disrespectful, or immoral, to challenge somebody’s boundaries, so it creates a cognitive bias away from recognising when those boundaries are tools of control over others as opposed to a tool of control away from others. Thus the intrinsic virtue of boundary setter and boundary defender creates a deadlock, and a Pascal’s-Wager-like logic emerges where not supporting or respecting a boundary makes you immoral. Hence, it is extremely well hidden and plausibly deniable, which makes them difficult to escape or disperse the power structure.

The means by which these boundaries can be tailored specifically for the present circumstances are endless. For example, a person can manipulate those around them into an emotional reaction (for example, using intentionally misleading body language), and then cite their boundary against that reaction to gaslight the victim, and those around them, into believing the victim has committed an immoral act, thereby damaging the trust a group has in an individual, which can be further exploited through various means. The defenders can have their perception so warped, that they simply are unable to see why somebody might reasonably do the thing which was in violation of the boundary. The real danger, though, is that these control freaks are blend in, and are actively enabled by the cultural shift towards intrinsic respect for boundaries, and to hide behind the perceived intrinsic virtue of respecting boundaries, even if those boundaries become increasingly unreasonable.

Also related to this is the following:

While people generally share the most basic tenets of human decency, we don’t have any specific morality that we can all agree to. If we want to coexist as a group at all, we just have to negotiate a compromise, but there will always be minor disagreements that can’t be resolved in a reasonable way. We’ve just got to choose our battles and focus on what’s important, without unnecessary drama.

While probably a good thing in the end, society divides at an increasingly small scale; but it does so in the first place because we began to exercise our boundaries and sovereignty, at many levels. Although some of the earlier disagreement remains to a lesser extent, we’re probably through the most violent part of it. These days, it is more often about finer details, which take far longer to work out.

It’s so easy to get lost in the details, confused by semantics, ambiguity, and contradiction. It’s impossible to resolve it all in a way that satisfies the majority, without also agreeing to a compromise. It is for this reason that our ability to reliably infer in advance what is or is not acceptable is always going to be limited, despite our best of intentions. This is why we just need to deal with a lot of it on a case by case basis.

Ah, Terry A. Davis. Rest in peace.

I think there’s a limit to this though, and it very much depends on what you’re actually trying to achieve. There’s a trade off between accuracy and simplicity. I think Richard Feynman explained it quite well. I can’t recall his exact words, but it’s more or less: if somebody asks you a question, do they really want to know the answer to it? If they don’t really want to know, you can simply the explanation down to a cartoon level, and it will satisfy those that don’t really want to know; however, for those that do really want to know, the explanation will be insufficient.

Consider also the matter of efficiently explaining many different concepts, and how they are all related. As the concepts become increasingly abstract, and the relations between them grows, the extent to which you can meaningfully simplify them decreases. You can compensate for this by making the explanation longer, to begin from simple concepts to the full idea, butt at that rate, you may as well just start wrapping up the simplified explanations into single words, and use those instead. Sound familiar? That’s what technical terms do, and the purpose they serve is exactly to encapsulate a complicated concept into a single word, to simplify the process of referring to it.

If I’m trying to communicate a philosophical idea, and justify with reasoning and support arguments, in as concrete and irrefutable way as I can, then I’m not going to simplify them down to the extent the veracity of it becomes compromised. If you think of it like a computer program, you can’t simplify beyond the bare minimum required to completely express the concept. You can compartmentalise it, structure it in a way that’s easy to follow, and hide complexity inside of abstractions, but the entire logic of the program must be present and complete.

When I’m typing up a philosophical idea, I want to justify it, I want the arguments to be sound, and I want it to be as irrefutable as I can manage. I’m not particularly interested in having a conversation with somebody that doesn’t already have some basic understanding of the concepts, because it’ll take a really long time to explain it all. I’ve done this before, and while they were thankful for it, it was time consuming, and most of the time I just don’t want to spend my time doing that. Sometimes, if I think an idea is important enough, I will go the extra mile to build up from the foundation and reach the full conclusion, but when I do that, I steadily define the terms as I use them, and trim as much of the fat off as possible.

With that in mind, here’s an exercise for you. Explain the following paragraph in simple terms without compromising the accuracy, or in any way reducing the effectiveness of the argument as it pertains to the broader text (which I posted above).

Non-local hidden variables have not been entirely ruled out, in which there is an exchange of information that occurs between all particles that is instantaneous, thereby enabling the outcome to be deterministic if they were known. If the underlying medium were computation, then that implies there is a global context in which the entire state of the universe is transitioned from one to the next, and it is only from the perspective of an observer inside that the transfer of information is limited to the speed of light. This would allow for the apparently instantaneous exchange of information between all particles, without being able to use it for any sort of communication from the inside.

My bet is that you can’t. It will either be much longer, starting from basic language and working your way up, or it will be missing key logic and won’t capture the complete idea.

I love this. You can write as many words as you want, but if you don’t break it down into some sort of TLDR, you’re kinda wasting your breath… finger breath. on a keyboard. fingerbreath.

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