Choose a topic

.. Cognition
Intelligence and Motivation

.. HUM
A Mind

.. Society
Drag Story Tellers
I Distrust the News
What is to be said?

Structures of Understanding

Culture is Ordinary

AI and Art
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Is this picture real?
NonFungible Tokens
Public Art
Tearing Down Statues
What is Art?
Working With Reality

Artificial Intelligence and the Collingridge Dilemma.
Bird Brains
Bounded Rationality
Competence Without Comprehension
Consciousness is More Like Fame Than Television
Developmental Processes
Emergence and Cognition
I Lost My Knife
Incomplete Information and Stories
Is free will an illusion?
Natural Law
Necessary Illusions
On Affordances
Pencil and Paper
Post Phenomenology
Reflective Equilibrium
Return of the Law of Forms
Shifting Meanings
Taking Things on Faith
The Hard Problem
The I Love You Gesture
The Imagined Order
The Phenomenology of Swim Bladders.
Thinking about medical procedures
Thinking About Risk
Underdetermination and Redundancy
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
What Does Google Know?

A Country Is Not Like A Company
Alternate ideas lying around waiting for disaster
Blood and Money
Can Capitalism Survive?
Do Our Minds Own Our Bodies?
Everyday Communism
Invisible Hand
Job Creators
Job Destroyers
Money and Value
Money is Different
National Accounts
Necessary Production
Paper Wealth
Post Capitalist Society
Profit Motive Fails
Rentier Capitalism
Social Wealth vs Surplus Value
Spending Money Into Existence
The Metaphysics of Money
The Ontology of Debt
Thinking about Money
Wealth is What Money Buys

Blowing Up Pipelines

Absolute Knowledge
I do not know everything
Rethinking Knowledge
Rethinking Knowledge
Semiotics and Body Language
The Curious Ineffectiveness of Facts
The Past and the Future.
Uncertainty and Unpredictability
Whatever happened to The Truth?

Competition and Cooperation
Dr Malthus would be pleased
Error Correction
Evolution Defended
Evolution is not Religion
Evolution of Cars
Forces of Nature
Is Natural Selection Obsolete?
Politics and Evolution
The Evolution of Purpose.
The Problem with Natural Selection.
The Source of Bad Behavior
Thinking about Tails
Why Does a Leopard Have Spots?

Free Speech in the age of Twitter
Freedom and Badness
Freedom and Morality
Freedom From and Freedom To
Freedom in the Age of Convoys
Libertarian Coercion

10 Views of Landscape
Affect and Effect
I pay rent.
Listening to Corn
The Reform vs Revolution Paradox
What is Public Schooling For?

Levels of Abstraction
Levels of Abstraction and Minds
What is a newspaper?

As Much As Possible
Zipfs Law

Emotional Plague
Memes: Imitated Behavior.
The Problem with Memes
What is a replicator?

Beyond Rules Based Morality
Freedom and Morality
Moral Realism.
What do we owe animals?


Maps and Territories
Metaphysics Without Absolutes
Philosophy Buds
Sincerely Held Beliefs
Sorites Paradox
Stereoscopic Vision and The Hard Problem
The Gorilla in the Room of Science
The Purpose of Science
What is Going On?

If It Walks Like a Duck
Right Wing Freedom
The Sovereign Citizen
Tyranny of the Majority


Constructed Life
Correlation Wins
Quack Doctors
The Great Shattering
The Material Space
Thinking about Interconnection
Too Small to See
Watching Pigeons
Weirdness in Physics

A society needs a government.
Belly of the Beast
Cultural Appropriation
Family Values
Griefers and Misinformation and Disinformation
Inclusion and Christmas
Open Society and Falsification
Rules in a Knife Fight?
Sex and Gender
Should We Go to Mars?
Society and The State
Spheres of Influence
The Care and Feeding of Free Speech
The Collingridge Dilemma
The Dual Meaning of Power
The Homeless
The Problem with Hedonism
To the Moon
We Live in the Present
Why is there a shortage of nurses?
Work - Productive, Useful, Worthless, and Bad.

Implications of Very Productive Technology
Modest Proposal
Problems with Universal Basic Income
Tormenting Unlucky People
Why there are oligarchs

The Gorilla in the Room of Science

My friend

I like science I always have.
Remember my Dad having a long talk with me one night when I was 6 or 7 about how "nature abhors a vacuum". He had the ideas a bit garbled as I know now but he was basically right and I pondered that for a long time. I was fascinated by astronomy.

By the time I was baptized religion just wasn't an area of 47thinking that I was interested in and it sort of fell away. I've studied and read science all my adult life. I've done experiments and I've done my own research.

Here's the Gorilla in the room of science - no matter how much I may know about science I know essentially nothing compared to what is known.

I may know a lot about Darwinian Evolution and can even go into it to a certain level of detail. That level of detail is completely inadequate to demonstrate from original evidence that Darwinian Evolution is at work. The level of detail that incorporates mixes the knowledge of paleontologists who argue for decades about what sort of creature was THAT bone part of amazingly often coming to consensus with the knowledge of cell chemistry and dna sequencing and taxonomic studies of all of the world over centuries.

It's not just me.

Nobody actually understands even evolution at that level of detail. A person in my position often encounters people who are neither well informed about science and don't want to be. They have other ways of thinking about reality and their own body of information to master. If I try to take a stance that says that my information is RIGHT they smile indulgently and say "Show me." And there is no way I can believe me I've tried often in encyclopedic conversations that go on for years. For instance say I say that vaccination really is an essential public health measure. I can point to the mountain of evidence and the fact that the huge consensus in the health community says vaccination. They just plain disbelieve that they have other sources of information and think I'm arrogant if I say they have to understand my information before they can decide what's right for their kids.

I turn to the Gorilla and smile.

Me and the Gorilla are old friends. See? Here's the way it goes no human knows all of science and all it's evaluations and justifications but the Gorilla knows. Here is why the Gorilla and I are friends I can ask questions and always get useful and trustworthy answers to whatever level of detail I want to go. The Gorilla is a vast network with many aspects and capabilities. Over here we have vast libraries and museums full of information and examples from nature. Over there we have a system of paradigms that trains practitioners to do research. We have fora where people with competing interpretations of something can hash things out. We have people trying to interpret that whole mass in ways that give useful understandings. When I read Ancestor's Tale by Dawkins I'm consulting the Gorilla.

Dawkins is looking at how life evolved over some 4 billion years at every page he cites the work of many authors who themselves work with what others before them have learned. But the Gorilla isn't just a thing that is consulted it is a thing that is provided with a huge amount of information that is manipulated and organized. Scientists get to feed it if they are lucky. Here's a thing we need to always remember about the Gorilla glad as I for the resource it's not a very comfy bedfellow. As people in science know the Gorilla can roll over and squash you like a bedbug. If the Gorilla won't publish your paper you are fucked basically pushed out of your life work that you've devoted years to mastering. And the Gorilla is pretty capricious about some things; how many times have things like coffee of sugar gone from being healthy to unhealthy.

Why do I stick with the Gorilla?
Well here's the thing whether we are scientific or not we all have to consult various sorts of Gorillas. Nobody knows everything or can know everything. So in this context maybe we can generalize to say that God is a particular example of the general category of Gorilla.

Remember that the idea of Gorilla here is an entity that both soaks up information and provides it. People consult God for information. That consultation has many forms there are texts to be consulted, people meditate, they pray. And like with science that consultation has a vast structure of institutions ranging from libraries to seminaries to hospitals and ministers and priests. I like science's Gorilla I must say. I mean so far so good it has never let me down.

I think that the anti-vaxxers are starting to find their Gorilla is letting them down. Their kids are getting sick. More they are facing great opprobrium from the rest of the community because not only do the anti-vaxxers endanger their own kids but everybody else's as well But the anti-vaxxers maybe just bought into a psuedo-Gorilla their's can't be questioned down to the level of quarks.
Mine can.

What do you think?

Star I present regular philosophy discussions in a virtual reality called Second Life. I set a topic and people come as avatars and sit around a virtual table to discuss it. Each week I write a short essay to set the topic. I show a selection of them here.

I've been thinking and reading about philosophy for a long time but I'm mostly self taught. That is I've had the good fortune to read what interests me rather than follow a course of study. That has it's limits of course but advantages. It doesn't cost as much and is fun too.

My interests are things like evolution and cognition and social issues and economics and science in general.