Universal fallibility

From Falsifiable Scientific Method
Revision as of 11:00, 26 April 2017 by Martin J Sallberg (Talk | contribs) (Thought experiments and alien morality)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

While it is sometimes claimed that thought experiments about an alleged omniscient deity "proves" that fallibility is confined to humans, that claim ignores the uncertainty of identity. Even assuming there is a possibility that you may be omniscient, the fact that a non-omniscient entity can believe itself to be omniscient means you cannot distinguish knowledge about being omniscient from a belief in being omniscient. You can also have false beliefs on what form of being you are, including on whether or not you are human, to which can be added that evolution and genetic continuity blurs the species concept. Falsifiability means that such claims are claims like any other, not to be placed in a particular "insane" category.

Fallibility does not equal correctability

Some restricted, human exceptionalist fallibilists (it is spelled fallibilist, not fallabilist or fallabilism) have claimed that birds flying into windows and dying are not fallible because they cannot question and change their behavior. However, that claim confuses fallibility with correctability. It is possible to be wrong with or without the ability to abandon false beliefs. Fallibility is not a sufficient condition for correctability (if it was, the falsifiability criterion would have been pointless), and correctability is not a necessary condition for fallibility. Universal fallibilism.

This means that transferring claims is not a sufficient condition for creating knowledge and accumulating knowledge. Criticism of claims is also a necessary condition for it. It is therefore time to stop assuming that culture as in behaviors transferred across the generations implies the ability to create technological civilizations. For example, there is no need to downplay chimpanzee imitation, such as alleging restrictions to how long traditions can survive among them before being forgotten, to explain why they have never created a technological civilization. Their inability to scientifically criticize assumptions, and with it the inability to distinguish correct and more useful worldviews from bunk, is explanation enough. This is also part of the inspiration for a falsifiable hypothesis, H/T: Grammar requires less brainpower than falsificative sapienthood.

Fallibility and correctability are compatible

However, the fact that fallibility is not the same thing as correctability does not mean that there is any contradiction whatsoever between fallibilism and correctabilism. On the contrary, fallibility is what makes correctability (or correctibility if you want to spell it in a way similar to falsifiability) so precious. This means many things, including that the traditional way in which the phrase "moral fallibilism" is used is misframed. Claiming that something "cannot be known by humans" is not fallibilism, it is misanthropic incorrectabilism. Also, the fallibility of all claims includes the fallibility of all concepts of demarcation between "knowledge" and "morality". Even if you could know that "morality" was a separate post that could not be objectively known, all assumptions on where to draw the line between knowable and "unknowable" would still be fallible.

Morality is not fundamentally different from science

As a thought experiment, imagine that all concepts of right and wrong were suddenly randomized. A wheel of luck with the fields "somewhat acceptable", "duty", "rights", "wrong", "horribly wrong but forgivable under some circumstances" and "horribly wrong, never forgivable" spinning for each action or phenomenon. And in the case of "horribly wrong but forgivable under some circumstances", a computer algorithm for randomization to select what circumstances. Without claiming that such a randomization ever happened suddenly, it is still a good approximation of what happens in a society in which the existence of objective evaluation of all values is denied and some form of "psychoanalysis" (not necessarily Freudian, it may as well be, say, "modern" cognitive bias theories) is applied to claim that people who do not take (some) values for granted but points out the importance of critical evaluation "must" have or be "suspected" of having a fixed agenda against said values. To reach beyond such utter arbitrariness, it is necessary to consistently apply zero tolerance to all "psychoanalysis" no matter what the specific question is.

As a consequence of this, it is always extremely dangerous to ever justify a moral stance by saying "I/we was/were raised that way" or anything of similar meaning. Same goes for "I/we am/are genetically hardwired to feel that way". If you claim anything on the lines of "you either agree with X or there's something wrong with you", you are turning a claim of how people "are" into something functionally equivalent of the logical fallacy known as argument from authority. So no matter what it is about, never assume that refusal to give a generalizing answer to a "right or wrong" question constitutes "defending" anything. Remember the importance of universal criticism.

Thought experiments and alien morality

Imagine, as a thought experiment, that Earth was invaded by aliens who had policies of treating other species "alienanely" ("alienane" treatment of humans as in "humane" treatment of animals). However, that "alienane" treatment does not include respect for what humans choose. Instead, alien political correctness says that it is wrong to ascribe any moral relevance to intelligence, and ramble on about mentally "disabled" aliens and alien infants. In the case of "mental disability", they lump sapient aliens who are merely considered "disabled" by arbitrary definitions with truly non-sapient ones. The aliens have their own politically correct assumptions of what constitutes how severe suffering in an "animal" (including a human), which are made infalsifiable by claims of aliens who criticize specific claims about it to be "psychopathic". This labeling is made even more deterring by courts much more often convicting aliens with that label by believing psychiatrists who say that they are "more likely" to commit crime, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy on the paper of conviction statistics. As a result, hardly any aliens dare speak up against non-consensual euthanasia of humans. The alien political correctness means that alien veterinaries can claim it to be a moral duty for aliens to put you to death even if you want to live. Aliens who let humans who are deemed "suffering" by alien veterinaries live are convicted for "cruelty to animals" (the "animals" being humans). Alien psychiatrists and alien criminologists rant about their statistical "evidence" that alines who are "cruel" to "animals" (read: who respect humans who want to live despite their "suffering" classification) are "more likely" to be violent to other aliens, and ignore the fact that conviction statistics are subject to self-fulfilling prophecies.

It is not that alien society is formally censored against dissenting views, they do have laws to "protect" freedom of expression of dissent and are less morally panicky than any current country on Earth especially regarding images of fictional characters. They also have no hereditary copyright, creative works enter public domain when the creator dies. It is just that they do not recognize infalsifiable psychological analysis as a ruling tactic that is suppressing free speech. Alien psychoanalysis claim that aliens who argue for human right to self-determination have an agenda to normalize and legalize aliens who fuck humans, which in alien society is considered very perverse. They also claim that it is "hard to see" any other reason for supporting a philosophy that considers it morally acceptable than a desire to do it oneself, denying the right of consistency that is critical for freedom of expression. Again, increased risk of being falsely convicted in courts acts as a threat that silences alien dissidents. Alien discourse is also dominated by social constructivism and postmodernism, including hammering questions about "how do you define intelligence?" in ways framed to make the concept of sapience look as if it was an arbitrary question of definition as soon as anyone talk about sapient rights.

Imagine, then, that you have a terminal disease for which there is an experimental cure that you want to try. However, the aliens ban any further testing of it, since alien biology is so different from human biology that drugs tested on humans cannot be used on aliens, and alien ethics therefore considers it to be gratuitous cruelty to animals to test drugs on humans. Politically correct aliens completely ignore your desire to try the treatment, and they put you to non-consentual euthanasia, even to forcible euthanasia. Would you seriously think that alien culture should not be criticized for doing so?!


Does the claim "people only hear what they want to hear" make any evolutionary sense? Selectively looking for information that confirms a preconception gives no advantages over simply acting on the preconception without wasting energy looking for confirmation of it. A falsifiabilistic consciousness has evolutionarily selectable advantages by enhancing behavioral modification and adaptability, but justification does not share the evolutionary usefulness of falsifiabilist thinking. A caveman that only looked for confirmation that a carnivore was no longer just outside the hideout would go out and be eaten by the carnivore. A caveman that only looked for confirmation that a carnivore was still outside the hideout would stay in the hideout until death from dehydration.

The lack of evolutionary use for justification

It is sometimes claimed that justification evolved for social interaction, but that claim ignores the fact that big brains consume more nutrients. It is so much more than the total caloric count: it increases the brain's demand for specific nutrients that were rare before the invention of agriculture. While grazing or leaf-eating animals can get a higher total calorie count than a healthy human diet, big brains made humans reliant on rarer types of food with higher levels of specific minerals, vitamins and amino acids.

This decreased the maximum group size of pre-agricultural humans to well below the approximately 150 individuals that the Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis claim. Just look at insects to see efficient societies with tiny brains. Many of these insects also have hierarchies in which each individual has its place, as well as the work for society without individual gain that is required for societies. And their brains are tiny, no complex emotion mechanisms there! No way social skills could have given big-brained Homo sapiens the upper hand over smaller-brained hominids!

The modern day relevance of evolutionary history

And any claims on the lines of "theories of what happened a long time ago have no relevance for how we are today" are fallacies. Evolution can give very relevant constrains on what biological systems, including our brains, are possible. It must, however, be use of evolution as a critical analyzer of psychological claims, as opposed to typical "evolutionary psychology" which takes psychological claims for granted and bends evolution beyond recognition to make up believable-ish stories of how such an alleged brain type is supposed to have evolved.