In this episode, we’re joined by Suspended reason, Quinn Lewandowski, and Crispy Chicken to discuss anti-inductivity, torque maneuvers, social interactions, inadequate equilibria, Pierre Bourdieu and a whole lot more.
You can find Suspended, and Crispy’s work at https://theinexactsciences.github.io and https://pfeilstorch.substack.com/
Will Jarvis 0:05
Hey folks, welcome to narratives. narratives is a podcast exploring the ways in which the world is better than in the past, the ways that is worse in the past towards a better, more definite vision of the future. I’m your host, William Jarvis. And I want to thank you for taking the time out of your day to listen to this episode. I hope you enjoy it. You can find show notes, transcripts and videos at narratives podcast.com.
This episode, we’re joined by Quinn Lewandowski suspended reason and crispy chicken. We get started with crispy chicken, kicking us off in defining terms, this conversation really gets going about a third of the way through, I think you’ll enjoy this.
Crispy Chicken 1:02
Maybe the first thing we should do is define NT and activity. And there’s already been some debate between me and disbanded about what that means. So I’ll give my definition and he can give his it differs significantly, which so my definition is a game is anti inductive, if by playing a certain move, that helps me i a leak information that can be used to be make other people’s strategies better. So I first leak information about my strategy. And that strategy can be meaning of use by other people. And there are games where people are playing for different enough things that this doesn’t occur, right. So like, even if you know, my strategy doesn’t help you win, maybe we’re playing for different prices. But you know, obviously, the stock market is a perfect example. Because literally by buying right, the price goes up. But the kind of thing that I like to say that is anti inductive that we have a lot of the talk on the server about is flirting, right, I think flirting is anti inductive, because when too many people start using the same strategy for the same identity markers, they become a sign that actually what you’re doing is not letting me into your authentic self, you’re using a strategy marker that people have come to associate authenticity. So by doing something you like a strategy, and it becomes less effective, because other people can use it. And when everyone’s using it that effective.
Suspended Reason 2:23
Do you guys want to jump in there? Should I give my my definition?
Will Jarvis 2:26
Go ahead. And how does it differ perhaps?
Suspended Reason 2:29
Yeah, well, I mean, I think one way I kind of want to want to talk about these things, which I think is different than I think people had, there’s a natural incentive to present information and concepts as like solidified. And as these kind of essential things. And they’re not that they’re kind of always under debate. They’re always getting gerrymandered, they’re always getting re legislated, the boundaries are shifting. And so many of these concepts, it’s actually like, you can use them very pragmatically for a long time in a discursive field without actually having like a super rigorous definition. Because you essentially have like some kind of shared conception of like, a certain local zone in which this concept works. And you don’t really know about the edge cases you don’t, you haven’t really nailed down and you can run into trouble depending on you know, different scenarios you run into. But I mean for this concept, for example, when we were having a conversation there night, I think we have recently in the last week come to a head where we’ve realized that we that me crispy, and then also another kind of you know, quote unquote, colleague or friend of ours, natural hazard, use this term and meaningfully different ways, and yet have been able to talk for the last six months without realizing we all have different definitions of this term, which is something that hazard would call the delusion of discourse, right? That we all kind of mean different things. And we’re constantly talking past each other. And most of the time when we’re in this abstraction land, it almost doesn’t even matter. We couldn’t even tell we wouldn’t know whether we’re using different meanings because there’s no kind of grounding that would would differentiate or test one versus the other. But so I guess, there’s there’s kind of two clusters of anti inductive systems that I’ve been thinking about, that might be distinct or might be the same. So one is the are those in which there are kind of these zero, some research resources, which are publicly visible, and are going to be grabbed and so like the $20 bill on the ground in Grand Central is a classic example of this. And then there’s kind of a second kind of anti inductive system in which, you know, these winning strategies are constantly being learned because they leak information like crispy said, so as soon as like I employ a certain strategy. Many games have a certain amount of legibility where my opponent can see Oh, he did this move, and he won the game. And so now in the future, I’m going to use that move to win the game or alternative Willie, I’ll figure out a countering move so that that when they move they just played can’t continue, you know, steamrolling me. And so you know, both of these are cases where, you know, these are systems in which excess returns are kind of premium value is difficult to find. And or like there’s kind of a short term efficacy of any discovery. So if I’m to discover a new strategy, or new play, or new low hanging fruit, there’s kind of it’s, it’s only available temporarily. If I don’t get to it immediately, someone else will. And, you know, if I can’t gobble up all the kind of excess value, a bunch of other people will quickly notice that I’m profiting in a premium way and, and kind of swoop in. So that’s, that’s where I’m at super quick five seconds, I’ll throw in kind of the third definition that I think this isn’t one that I mess around with. But this is maybe more hazards. And so I’ll just kind of represented by proxy here. I think he’s fuse anti inductive games or systems as those which have no kind of complete winning move. So a game like checkers or tic tac toe is solved, like, whereas other games. Your success in employing a certain move is always dependent on other people’s moves. And that kind of context sensitivity means there’s always this kind of moving edge or this treadmill that you have to keep up with. There’s never a final solution to the game. It’s depends on who you’re playing and what they know and how it’s going down.
Quinn Lewandowski 6:25
truly interesting. And I can see how those weak in some cases, I bet those with how very similar prediction. I wonder if it’s like, mapping with territory to different ontologies. But maybe it’s getting the same thing.
Crispy Chicken 6:47
Yeah, I agree. I think though, the place where it differs is basically the kind of prizes you’re fighting for. Right? So I think when you start fighting for private goods, instead of public goods actually ended and the activity gets super complicated, because the question is, who can watch your moves? How much are you leaking information to cooperators? And how much what is a cooperator a well defined thing versus someone who’s trying to steal your strategy? Whereas, you know, with the stock market, this is all factored out, because it’s super, super public on purpose.
Suspended Reason 7:17
I also think you’re you’re kind of comment about map territory stuff. I mean, I think that’s really important here. And it kind of connects to what I was saying earlier about people presenting these concepts is just like existing, the concepts don’t exist in the world, the concepts are metaphors for describing patterns. And, you know, unless you’re dealing with something like math, it’s really just your all you have is metaphor. And so there can be these kind of mutually conflicting or mutually amenable metaphors that are just describing the same thing or similar clusters. But I’ve been noticing, I’ve been trying to figure out, for instance, you know, they’re different metaphors this way that like, as you’re making decisions, through time, you’re kind of possibility space somehow diminishes or like freezes. And there’s different metaphors, you can use them. So you have like this garden of forking paths idea, right, where, like, the fact of like parentage, and the way a tree structure works is that like, as you go down a path, all these other, like, branching paths are no longer available to you, like, if you can’t go back, you can only go forward down this, this this tree structure, you know, if you have a kind of binary, you know, you have three decisions that are Yes, or knows, you know, at the beginning, you have eight final points that you could land that, but you make your first decision, and now you only have four possible places. And after two decisions, you only now have two. So there’s kind of that metaphor. And then there’s also kind of this idea of like annealing, and this metaphor of simulated annealing, where things kind of like, solidify into a structure, and they become harder and harder to change. So, you know, as time moves forward, and you create, you know, airline bookings, and hotel bookings, and you coordinate with family and all these things, it becomes harder and harder to change the plan, because you’ve kind of nailed it to place and I think at the end of the day, all we kind of have to describe this stuff as metaphors and that’s why we’re kind of in the realm of what I think crispy and I and hazard and some of the other folks that you know, hang out and chat about these, these problems, call in exact sciences, stuff that is a little bit more than philosophy or art, maybe, you know, we’re trying to take concepts from philosophy and maybe add a little bit of rigor to them or make them kind of pay rent, but they’re not nearly at the point of a science where, you know, we can actually apply math to this, we’re still in the land of metaphor.
Quinn Lewandowski 9:33
Makes a lot of sense. Definitely. And it was kind of an unfilled niche. I mean, you read CP snow talking about the two cultures and there isn’t a third culture that’s halfway in between the other toe.
Suspended Reason 9:52
Well, knowledge economy is are inadequate equilibria right, because otherwise you wouldn’t expect such a you know, rich niche to go on. waited for so long. And yet here we are. One one concept that we like a lot is this idea of a rigged rising pipeline. And I kind of was inspired by Kevin Sharpe, the philosopher. But basically this idea that like the goal of philosophy, to some extent is to kill itself. And that it’s a kind of fact of the field that philosophy is always shrinking. So 500 years ago, philosophy included, you know, life sciences, and chemistry and biology and all these things. And as philosophy has kind of got these concepts to a point where they’re, like, more tractable, and testable, they become sciences, and they actually kind of leave the home, the kind of childhood home of philosophy and grow up. And, you know, I think that in this kind of pipeline, which may be on the far left end starts with art, and literature and philosophy, and then slowly kind of moves through to the social science and psychology, it’s like analysis, and then, you know, all the way up to physics at the far right end, I think there are a lot of kind of structural incentives for fields to jump ahead of themselves and get ahead of themselves. Because right, you can get more grant funding if you’re a science, which is why the social sciences call themselves the sciences, even though they’re not really sciences. So I think there’s kind of this part of the reason this nature’s unexploited is because they’re active, like financial incentives in terms of grants and legitimacy, and prestige, and being taken seriously, to presenting yourself as more rigorous than you are. And then on the other hand, maybe there are some incentives to kind of taking the loosey goosey far left end of art and literature where you’re not really held accountable for your ideas.
Will Jarvis 11:35
Definitely, well, you know, no real science calls themselves to science, you know, it’s biology, physics and chemistry that it’s, you know, social science, right? It’s, it’s notable to me, was stopped physical science or chemical science or anything like that
Suspended Reason 11:50
crispy. Where does NLP fall in all this? Like, how would you position NLP and the regularizing? pipeline?
Crispy Chicken 11:57
That’s a good question. I mean, so I, I’ve been told that there are two ways you can define what a field does, you can define it very broadly as to the goals that a field says that it pursues, and you can define it as who’s in the field now, and what are they actually doing?
Will Jarvis 12:14
Right, the internal story versus like, the actual, like, what’s going on?
Crispy Chicken 12:18
Exactly. And so I think, you know, the, you know, the story of NLP is a lot like the story of biomechanics. biomechanics means the mechanics of your knee, it also means like literal, physical, tiny things that you have to study with electron microscopes. Like, it’s just, oh, it’s mechanical, and it’s in a biological system? very broad. Exactly. So I think natural language processing is a lot like that, well, it has language, and we better process it with a machine. That’s that NLP. I think, right now. It’s a very, very broad field. But realistically, right now, this this revolution of language models like GPT, three, where these things can do so so much out of the box, without even any training, and with a little bit of more training, they can do these crazy things that we didn’t think we could do a few years ago. And, and they reveal also that like, the way we’ve been testing things is probably not even like actually testing, the thing we want to it was just a good enough test before because our algorithms and models weren’t good enough to kind of bypass the easy way out of these tests. So I think right now, I would say, like, the majority of NLP, even if it’s not focused on language models, is basically grappling with, how do we define what’s possible in this space? And because of that, it’s very, very close to the ground in terms of hypotheses. But in some sense, because of that, it’s actually almost closer to engineering. Engineering is also about hypotheses. Engineering is about the hypothesis. Can I make this happen? And I think that’s the kind of hypotheses you see entertain an LP because saying, Is this possible? Well, how do you really prove anything like that when we’ve just shown that our own way of conceptualizing what’s possible and not is is not robust enough to handle these kinds of advancements?
Quinn Lewandowski 14:08
works? Yeah. Can we do it? There’s a lot more testable?
Crispy Chicken 14:14
Absolutely. I think the unfortunate side of that is that I kind of think that there is what I would call a crisis of conceptualization, which is, I really just don’t think you can easily publish a conceptualization paper unless you already have cloud. I’m sorry. And interestingly, there’s been a new round of conceptualization papers Recently, there was one of the major NLP conferences had this instance where they specifically asked for what they call theme papers, you’re basically you don’t need results papers, talk about what’s interesting in the field, where it’s going, what doesn’t work, how to actually think about these things. And so I think there is hunger for this. But I still think that the academic aesthetics are well Sure, maybe you can include a little bit of conceptualization, but you really have shown that there’s some experiments you can run, but the numbers are higher if that would have happened. And don’t get me wrong, I think in general, like, it should always come down to that in the end, if you’re really an engineering field, which I think NLP is. But I think the problem is, you usually can’t make these kinds of conceptual advancements in one paper. So you there needs to be a discourse that actually gives birth to some of the ideas that are eventually tested. And I think that discourse is is basically almost have to participate in unless you already have justified yourself. And so you can write a blog post, but if you haven’t read a blog post, and you and you are you are not that famous yet, then everyone’s like, what are you doing wasting your time with these blog posts, you’ve got to go outside and prove yourself. And then we select for the people who spent all of their times either politically deciding to prove themselves or who only care about, like the very grounded hypotheses. And there’s benefit to that. But I think it basically holds us back when you get to these really incredibly complicated conceptual spaces, which I think is where we are in now. I think, you know, that we don’t know how to test, you know, generative capabilities of models, we have some vague ideas, but like, we don’t know how to say, Oh, yeah, I can do this thing, and maybe can’t do that thing.
Suspended Reason 16:13
Because I want to throw a thought at you that I’ve kind of just had, because you had a post a couple days ago, sort of touching on some of these themes. And you mentioned that, you know, colleagues in some of these fields, you know, might might kind of look at like conceptual worker theorizing, I was like, Well, you know, we’re not gonna get anywhere, if we just have a bunch of people writing about these things. And we have kind of this hunch that like, on one hand, what we desperately need is like good conceptual frameworks in order to make things tract about like, getting back to this kind of rigor rising pipeline, like, what actually makes like, what gets something from philosophy to a science? And I think there are two answers there. I think one answers like stamp collecting, because you need a lot, a lot of examples, you need to understand the domain space really well, in order to then, you know, start pulling patterns and theorizing, right, you need a good kind of Encyclopedia of species before you can have a Darwin. But I think the second part of it is that you need the concepts in the right place, like you need to do all this conceptual work so that things can actually be tested and tractable. And so it’s clear that like, if these fields are kind of jumping ahead of themselves, then what we’re seeing is they probably haven’t done either their stamp collecting work or their conceptual work. And, you know, obviously, it feels like NLP has massive corpuses. So in a sense, it’s not really maybe a tax or or a stamp collecting problem. It’s really a conceptual problem. And yet, we’ve been there. On the other hand, we’ve done so much conceptual work in linguistics, like the the biggest ship, the biggest kind of trend in philosophy in the 20th century was language, you know, the linguistic turn, and it permeated almost every field, there’s been so much kind of angsty, theorizing about how language works. And so one question is like, why haven’t we actually gotten somewhere? And I guess what I want to throw out crispy is that maybe this is like a general compatibilism problem, and that we have actually figured out most of the answers, but we figured them out piecemeal, and we haven’t actually put them together because we have these opposing schools and fields.
Crispy Chicken 18:21
I think that’s a really, really good point. And I’m going to quote this classic am contested quote from NLP in general by Frederick Jellinek. I hope I’m pronouncing that right, who claims that he didn’t say this, but it’s often quoted Despite this, which is, every time we fire a linguist, the performance of our system goes up. And I think that this is from a while ago, I think, the Hadees or something. And I think the point of that is, there was a lot of attempt to use linguistic theory immediately when NLP was growing up. And it’s all right, there were language problems. And they started the name AI, in what was it like the very late 50s? You know, McCarthy and Minsky, and all these people talking about these things, and then there were two AI winters. And probably until very recently, everyone was always trying to figure out how to use linguistic theory, and it’s still relatively common. But I think there’s this big problem that makes language in my opinion, one of the hardest problems of all, but I think, you know, in many ways, we might be figuring out like, human memory, even before we figure out language, which is we tend to describe language, under the understanding that we’re describing to someone who is using language and therefore understands language. And I and linguists do this. I mean, we can try to escape it, we can try to have formal things but like linguists don’t write algorithms for how to create a language. It’s not even clear what that would mean, right? Like how much they have context and situated part of an agent. Language is like, there’s this famous. There’s this famous quote, and I’m forgetting the person it’s due to, but which is like language is a byproduct of others. Or have other activities write that like meaning is a byproduct of language being used in context. And, and I think that makes this very difficult. So I’m not very convinced that we’ve solved these language problems. I don’t think that means that there isn’t a compatibilism problem. I think there’s a lot of good language writing that and research that isn’t being used by, by machine learning broadly and NLP more specifically. But I think there’s one thing that we should give them a little bit of slack on even though I know I’m very critical, which is, yes, there’s been a ton of stamp collecting about language. But no, there hasn’t been a ton of stamp collecting about the specific models and what they do. And to be fair, the field is very good at that. And those models are different than they were two years ago, like literally every few weeks or something, and you’re like, oh, maybe this wasn’t even true. So it might be that, you know, I’m sitting here complaining, but the reality is, we just don’t know the limits of these systems. And that’s the important thing. nonlinguistic theory, before we can even understand how this interacts linguistic theory, we need to understand what these models are actually doing. But I still think that you’re pointing to something correct, which is, if there was a theory that explained this, I don’t think even if an NLP person was really into it, I don’t think they could convince everybody else, I think they would have to show it in the current framework. And that current framework is admitted by the people in the field to be too limited. We don’t like our data sets, we need to move on to obvious things, and we don’t know how to read it. So I think there is a little bit of kind of a crab bucket problem where as soon as someone wants to kind of try to exit it, there are too many things that need to happen. And so someone’s going to tear them down with a criticism and it’s kind of difficult. And currently, the only way to escape that is to have big enough clout in the field to make a conceptual revolution.
Will Jarvis 21:49
Very difficult. There’s like this. What does it claim? conspiracy? What Scott’s the cloud coma, Gaurav
Quinn Lewandowski 22:00
Kumar, come? Yes, complicity.
Will Jarvis 22:03
Sorry, thing where people, maybe people think about this, but they just can’t, you know, talk about it together, come come together. And it’s quite interesting. crispy and suspended. You know, I get a feeling crispy you come at things from a hard technical side. And suspended you come for from more of a, you know, philosophy side literary criticism. Is that fair? Or how do you think your background influences how you think about these things?
Suspended Reason 22:36
Oh, you know, I think that’s fair. I mean, just, uh, you know, factually speaking, those are our backgrounds. My background is pretty much literary criticism. That’s what I have a degree in non advanced degree, but a degree. Um, and I have kind of drifted. And, you know, I’m trying to learn more math. But yeah, I think a lot of this kind of project, which I mean, we, we can kind of get into that a little bit, but basically crispy, and I and a few other people who’ve kind of brought up or mentioned to this chat, have started a project that goes by a couple different names, but we call it you know, fail stores or the inexact sciences. I mean, I think the project is really in this kind of inexact science area that’s between the two cultures, as you say, this kind of murky ground and the regularizing pipeline. And then, you know, I mean, we’re basically trying to create a kind of community that that brings people from different fields and different perspectives to kind of talk about these issues and try and break down some of these field boundaries, and make progress on you know, questions of like representation and social interaction and game playing. The, I’ll just say really quick, and then I’ll like crispy answer the the fail stores is this really cool example, from the natural sciences, really, but up until the 19th century, this kind of blew my mind when I figured it out, or when I learned it, but up until the 19th century, people didn’t know what birds didn’t winter, like, they just really didn’t know. And there are a bunch of different theories. You know, going back to the Greeks, you know, several prominent people thought that the birds transformed into different winter animals. So you know, when when it got cold, they became different animals and then come spring they they went back to being birds. There were some theories, I think that they like hibernated. There were some theories actually, when the moon kind of came into vogue, I think in the, the 18th and early 19th century, a lot of people that maybe they flew to the moon when winter came around, but nobody knew. And then in early 19th century, These uh, they started discovering these storks that had a, you know, like Spears or arrows through their neck and flying over Germany, you know, like some hunter would just like see a bird and shoot it down for food and then say, You know why the heck does this thing have a have a strange tribal, you know, spear through its neck? Let me bring it to the kind of natural museum and oh, it turns out this Spears from Africa. So how would that happen? How could we get a stork in Germany that has like an African spear in its neck. And that’s how we discovered bird migration. And that’s such an incredible example of how just like one or two, like have the right kind of examples or case studies or what would normally get written off, as you know, like an anecdotal report or like an n equals one, we don’t have to worry about it. There’s this other kind of inference that we can do where like it breaks all the logic, and we have to reconfigure our sense of reality around this one exception. And I think this is kind of emblematic of maybe different ways to make breakthroughs in these fields or or think through metaphor and think about the kind of charged example.
Quinn Lewandowski 26:07
Think about this tangent that seems worth it. I think anecdotal evidence is currently getting a kind of a bad rap. I mean, it’s definitely limited. But people’s intuitive sense of how sketchy that is, is not adjusting for the media. That currently there is a massively powerful optimization process selecting anecdotes according to criteria, they’re largely determined beforehand. And so there’s a big, just epistemic difference between this happened to my sister, and the media was able to find this happening to someone with the resources they have to throw into that. I think you should almost completely disregard the ledger unless you’re looking for a possibility proof. And the former actually seems worth updating. I mean, sometimes it really won’t be a crazy coincidence. But by definition, those are pretty rare.
Crispy Chicken 27:01
I totally agree. And like, for me, this is the difference between talking about existence, like for instance, couchsurfing, when I was in high school, someone said, Wait, camping is a myth. And I was like, well, YouTube exists. there better be one video one video out dipping. And so I went and looked at no one literally zero video. It’s like, right, I just video after video being like, it’s fake. And then me going down to the 100th. Example. And it’s like, No, there’s nothing. Yeah, versus right. Like me, you know, encountering someone who I don’t know, is addicted to x drug, right? And then being like, Oh, well, if I encountered that person, then at least in my general subculture, this might this might have some level population, right? Cuz it wouldn’t be just I encountered this one example. So yeah, I totally agree. I think people in this way distrust personal evidence they have personal acquaintance with, which is really disturbing to me. Actually.
Quinn Lewandowski 27:53
Me too. Yeah.
Suspended Reason 27:58
Crispy I this kind of sets up an opportunity to chat a little bit about homology, potentially. But do you have thoughts on you’re kind of on the kind of science side or on fail stores or inexact science stuff?
Crispy Chicken 28:09
Yeah, I’ll just say one thing, because I think you’ve covered the vast majority of it, which is, um, I like to say, even though maybe it’s not the most diplomatic thing for me to say, which is that I’m driven by blind rage most of the time. And the main reason I say that is because so I’m, I grew up what I call it literalist. I have this this term literalist, which is basically like, I just took what people said, seriously. Now, I didn’t think that they were like, I understood that people could lie. But I always kind of had to prove to myself that they were lying before I accept that. And because of that, I ended up learning things very weirdly, when I was growing up. And then I always thought I was bad at it, for some reason, in some capacity, even though I could tell that I was outperforming to when certain capacities, and now that I’m like, Oh, I can actually use this. I just have this desire to do things like in a way that I was told I couldn’t, to some extent, right, yeah. And so because of that, I hung out with a lot of people who are into kind of more soft philosophy and things like that in, in university, who were also pretty good at math and some things like that. And I realized I was the only one in my group who was willing to kind of be a diplomat between those two parties. And you know, I read two cultures. And I was like, Yeah, but no one wants to do this, because all the people who could are like, wow, I would spend a lot of time talking to people I don’t like, and I just think I had in my heart, you know, enough anger that this was a situation and that basically, people are constantly being epistemologically gaslit that I was like, you know, what I just, I, I’m willing to become a politician to do that, because I already kind of have this cynicism to do it. And so I think because of that, I went hard into technical stuff, because I had the ability to even I’m not the best. I’m not the best engineer. I’m not a mathematician. I’m not the best at any of these classic kinds of skills, or even really close. In many cases. I’m below average, but I’m good enough and I can see a lot of mistakes that people make That I went into this space. And because of that I, you know, I call myself like game, a liaison or game A is, you know, the vast institutional knowledge and knowledge kind of construct. And so I think that’s why I tend to come at things from there, because I’m also so used to trying to push the boundaries of gaming a little bit all the time. But in order to do that, you always have to speak in the right lingo to make sure that you don’t have any kind of easy attack surfaces.
Will Jarvis 30:27
Oh, real quick. Is that a common thing for you to quit? Like Where? You know, yeah, discovering that people don’t always mean what they say, Yeah,
Quinn Lewandowski 30:37
I uprising, I strongly relate to that motivation would be surprising and being angry about. And that sense that. Yeah, I talked to my mom, earlier today on the phone. And we were just talking about something. I think it was a news story. And I said, Well, they’re lying. And she said, yeah, that you get really viscerally angry about that. And I think they should not do that. I’m not defending it. But it doesn’t make my blood boil. Which is a good thing to so I strongly relate to that sense of, yeah, being gaslit. And being I think Steven case said, when you lie at someone, you sabotage their map of the world. And this is not a decision you should take lightly, you should ask yourself, I also slash this person’s tires. Out. gasps so I don’t think any of that actually contributes intellectually, but I very strongly feel where you’re coming from.
Crispy Chicken 31:40
Yeah, I really empathize with that description. And to me, you know, I think a lot of people find communities like the rationalists, for instance, and like, find their tribe. And I think to me, I felt like I could communicate with people a little bit too late, almost. So I done a lot of assimilation. And because of that, I think I came into this kind of realization that actually, I was, I felt too far down the road, I didn’t want to try to go back and feel at home, I was like, You know what, I’m going to actually, like, be someone who can actually play that game. And like, even though I kind of have the fire in me, I’m going to learn how to tone it down in a way that actually allows me to do both. And that’s something that like, it’s interesting, because I feel like I really, I really empathize with a lot of people in the rationalist sphere, and generally, people who self described as autistic and things like that, but that I also, like, have done so much work to kind of push back against that part of myself in order to understand that world. And that, like, I can see why if my if things had been easier, and I feel that it was easier to communicate with people at any point, then I probably wouldn’t have gone down that road. It’s kind of funny to realize that, like, if I’ve introduced, for instance, the rationalist early on, I probably wouldn’t have been here, I probably wouldn’t be doing this kind of stuff.
Quinn Lewandowski 32:53
Yeah. It’s very a hero’s journey. Absolutely.
Suspended Reason 33:01
I mean, I think the other thing, too, I you know, I think one of the reasons that rationalists are above average good at producing social insight is because they are like, deeply estranged from kind of like, naturally right, I have to be a part of it to be able to see it. Right. Yeah. I mean, there’s the kind of heideggerian like ready to hand president hand idea. We’re like, until the tool breaks on you, you don’t question how the tool works. But if the tool is already broken for you, and everyone else seems to be using it smoothly, you start saying, Well, how do I fix my damn tool? How does the thing work? How do I like actually, you know, achieve things in the world that I want to? How do I you know, kind of lower the entropy of my actions where like, I can do something socially, and I won’t be completely shocked or surprised by how people respond to it. And that I think, leads to a lot of productive reverse engineering. Yeah. The cache, there’s, there’s a couple of directions that I want to go here, I guess one thing I’ll say quick, super quick. You had the quote about how lying is manipulating somebodies map territory. And I think that’s true. But I want to complicate the situation. And I want to suggest that anytime that you manipulate, well, basically, anything you do in the view of another person is going to change their understanding, right? Just me being around you right now is changing your map. All communication changes the map. And in this kind of sense, all communication is manipulation, which I think is an insight that comes out of animal signaling. And so the distinction becomes like, well, it’s clear that certain kinds of manipulation, the things that normally in kind of the normal way manipulation is used. These are bad things. They’re either forms of lying or gaslighting, or being generally shitty that you know, we want to kind of discourage or at least somehow, like, conceptually distinguish from the kind of banal manipulate That I might be doing right now, just by informing you or making a point you’re trying to persuade you of things. I think one line you can draw is you can say, Well, okay, all communication is manipulation. But some manipulation is mutually advantageous, or some manipulation is predatory, or some manipulation doesn’t mess resent misrepresent things strategically. There’s different ways you can kind of carve it up. But I wanted to make that complication. Yeah, um, yeah.
Crispy Chicken 35:26
I just want to add, you know, for anyone who’s trying to think about this, and it seems a little bit too much, just think about how couples change their behavior when they have a child, especially if that child was a little bit older. And they’re like, not in front of the baby. And you’re like, Oh, wait, why is it suddenly important? And the assumption is that their map is being changed a drastic amount, right? But we never grow out of that at all right? Like, as soon as you enter a new community, you start thinking, what are my new hobbies? What’s going to happen? What’s the taste that I’m going to develop and things like these, and you’re so used to it, that you don’t do it, but you never you never adapt yourself from the kind of babies map manipulation problem.
Suspended Reason 36:04
Yeah, I mean, it’s, I think, you know, one way to kind of think of it is like, um, you know, if communication is a form of action, which obviously, it is, and people act in order to, you know, affect the change in the world, you know, they, you know, they have some lemons, and they want lemonade, and so they need to somehow change the state of the world in order to get to their kind of desired end point. And so if communication is a kind of act, clearly people, you know, communicate, because they want things to change, and things can’t change in the world with communication, unless you have like a competent decoder who will change their behavior, right? Like, like communication uses people as its medium, for effecting transformation. There is no other way. And so if I’m like speaking to a tree, it’s going to change nothing, because the tree cannot decode and the tree can’t change its information. State, it can’t change its behavior. I’m not, I’m not even communicating at that point. To
Crispy Chicken 36:57
ever trust someone they say, I’m just saying, it’s never true.
Suspended Reason 37:03
Right, right. They’re saying it for a reason. Otherwise, they would say silence. When you’re in these games, when you’re in these games, even being silent is a move. That’s the thing about these games is once you’re in a game, everything becomes a move and becomes interpreted as a move. And so there is no not playing. You’re either silent, and people will interpret that as moving, you’re playing or you speak but right, you’re choosing between plays. My father.
Quinn Lewandowski 37:27
The study here is to talk about when I was growing up, where they got people to talk to a therapist, and now they’re grown. And afterwards, right how happy they were, I don’t know if this replicated. He didn’t tell me what the name of it was. So I can just Google it. Anyway, the catch was the therapist was a tape recorder program to say things like, aha, and yes, go on. And most people were very happy about this would have been in the 50s. So they might have had much higher prior that. I think maybe the effect of I’m talking to a professional therapist was a lot stronger back then. Because it was newer.
Crispy Chicken 38:08
Well, the study has been replicated a lot of times where they had an AI do this on text, and like that’s been replicated dozens of times, so I’m willing to believe it, for sure. just ended Do you want to I think you want to talk about talk semantics, and it feels perfect.
Suspended Reason 38:25
Yeah. Well, so earlier, when you said that anecdotes have a quote, bad rep. They’re underrated. People underrated. And so yeah, so I’ll throw out a couple more concepts that kind of we’ve been chatting about internally. So when it’s kind of we’ll call it like torque, epistemology, or torque semantics. Um, so I think basically, implicit in this idea, is the feeling that when people say they like something, or they dislike something, they’re not expressing these opinions in a vacuum. The what they’re actually doing is they’re saying this thing is under or overrated. Um, and furthermore, that when people kind of state these beliefs, there’s always a kind of political dimension to a publicly stated belief. And I think you can take an evolutionary view of this, I don’t think you have to, but I think we can we can say, Well, most people evolved in like small communities and tribes, decisions were being made. And in such as kind of small community, even one person’s vocal dissent might have a meaningful impact over the group decision. And so there’s kind of right, this beliefs aren’t just what you believe in a vacuum beliefs rather, to me feel like they’re deeply situated. And their attempts to somehow transform transformed the kind of landscape of belief or the landscape of possible political policy outcomes. And I mean, policy or politics in a very, very loose sense. Not like how We think about governance. And so I think this is a I think where I got this idea first was from Berto, who I’ll just shout out Bordeaux i think is the best theorist of the 20th century. I think he’s the best. I am skeptical of plenty of the kind of continental theorists folks, I think Bordeaux is as good as it gets. So Bordeaux has this line. You know, let me just bring it up really quick.
So you write some. This explains why writers efforts to control the receptions of their own works are always partially doomed to failure. One thinks of Marx’s I am not a Marxist, if only because the very effective their work may transform the condition of its reception. And because they would not have had to write many of the things they did write and write them as they did, Eg resorting to rhetorical strategies intended to twist the stick in the other direction, if they’d been granted from the outset, what they are granted retrospectively. And so in other words, marks writing looks out, he sees a certain kind of landscape of what is assumed of kind of what beliefs people just hold implicitly and unquestioningly about what things are like overrated or underrated about kind of where people’s dominant priorities are. And then he sets out to kind of change that and push it more in the direction he wants it. And so this is where the torque metaphor comes in, which is that you’re kind of it comes from twisting the stick you’re trying, you can also kind of think about it as a tug of war or leverage or haggling, right, like, when you’re haggling or bargaining in a marketplace, you’ll start the price too low, because you know that the seller will start the price too high. And maybe you’ll finally get to someplace in the middle. And this is kind of the rhetorical or political aspect of the offer you’re making. It’s not a sincere expression of like, what you really value the item as rather, it’s like a strategic attempt to like get the best value possible in the end. And I think that this is implicitly like what beliefs are that we essentially exist in like, this kind of discursive warfare landscape where this kind of ongoing discursive game in which people keep track of the game state, and know like, kind of where, where people are headed, what’s under overrated, and then they kind of try and affect this. And so when we look at kind of the extreme rhetorics politically, or even a non political issues, like in fields, or when we look at people calling things, you know, you’re kicking a dead horse, or, you know, we can all assume that people are operating more as if, you know, discourse is a debate in which you score points, then they are like trying to kind of flesh out a map. And I feel like I’m starting to get incoherent here. So I love crispy chicken to help bail me out. Maybe clarify any points that that I’ve been blonde?
Crispy Chicken 42:52
Absolutely. I don’t think you’ve been blowing anything. I think, when you hear read the room, the question, Is that why? And the answer is because you’re expected to be interpreted by the picture of the room, right? And I think one big thing there is, if you see someone say, x works, why isn’t that good? The question is always like, okay, in comparison to what, right? And you see these people saying, Oh, well, you know, that it’s good. And what they’re really debating about is whether we publicly are going to read that it’s good. And then we can use this as a public reference point. And I think a really important thing here is, a lot of people who, you know, start thinking about this consciously are like, why don’t you just say what you actually mean. And if you mean this, and the current discourse is over here, then you have to push way past the point, you mean, in order to apply enough force for where things are now to reach where you think they should, right? By definition, this is just literally how force would work out, right. And so if you say what you mean, people are going to meet you, you know, in between, depending on basically how much clout you have in this conversation. And that’s never where you want to be, by definition. And so you, you really just don’t have another choice in order to express yourself clearly. And you’ll find if you do kind of express yourself clearly, to most people, what happens is, they meet you in the middle. And then later on, you get referenced as you as if you agreed to meet in the middle, right, and as if that was your real opinion. And so I think, you know, people who think this is super adversarial should consider Well, a lot of the time it’s actually about misrepresenting one’s own opinion that you would feel misrepresented of your as your own opinion, if you don’t compensate for how everybody already thinks about x subject.
Suspended Reason 44:40
Yeah, the last thing I’ll just add on really quick there. So I think kind of what results from these behaviors or systems is that you get Bruno Latour. He has a great essay called why as critique run out of steam, and it’s from the early 2000s. And you know, Latour is kind of part of that late 20th century continental theory scene, the the science that he’s seen And he’s saying, you know, man, like, did we what what went wrong? Like 30 years ago, we felt like we had to push against this kind of reigning orthodoxy of science where, like science and progress was gonna figure everything out and give us all the answers. And, and was just, you know, science just discovered the truth and everybody trusted science, they were putting, you know, men on the moon. And now 3040 years later, you know, I can go into the, you know, French countryside and find, you know, quote, unquote, peasant. And he’ll have these kind of like ideas about not trusting authorities and about how like george bush was behind 911, and how the climate scientists are making it all up. And we shouldn’t trust science. And, you know, I don’t know if those kinds of skepticisms of authority and science are essentially new, but I think they’ve at least become more prominent in some sense. And I think, you know, what he’s having a crisis over is that he felt like they were pushing back against one reigning orthodoxy with these kind of deconstructive worldviews. And then in some sense, he feels like maybe they won, but they won too much, or they went too far. And now it’s like, if they didn’t find that kind of middle resting ground where they want it to be, or the kind of appropriate skepticism isn’t there. And he talks about, he uses a metaphor for his, you know, fellow theorists, including himself, he says, the French love revolutions, that these these continental theorists are these kind of like French generals, who would just love a revolution, like a brand new clean start. And I think you really see this in French theory, where it’s not like, you know, Sartre doesn’t come on the scene and say, Well, you know, previous theories were mostly right. But I want to add on this agenda, I want to, you know, add this wrinkle. That’s not actually really how dialectic works. The way dialectic works is Sartre storms in and says, All our theories are wrong, humans are ultimately and completely free, there is no infringement on our freedom, down to the point where, you know, they’re these stories where he’s on like a ferry ride with Simone. And she gets seasick. And he’s pissed at her because he says, Why aren’t you getting this under control, this is this is under your power, you’re free to not be sick, right. And he’s obviously taking it way, way too far about freedom, like humans aren’t. There are obviously serious constraints. And his picture isn’t super nuanced. But you kind of get these like it bounces back and forth between this kind of like structuralist behaviorist view of human beings where it’s like, human beings are just these dopes who walk around running the algorithms that they’re programmed by, by the structures that are embedded within, or they’re existentially free, and nothing can contain them. And hopefully, you know, these kinds of like ping pong things, these kind of like radical revolutions, like, end up with, like a nuanced dialectical process. But it also seems like oftentimes, that leads to these kinds of extremes where the full picture sort of exists, but it exists piecemeal, at different times. And so when earlier crispy, and I were talking about kind of this General compatibilism, during compatibilism, is basically the idea that, like, a lot of theories are partially right, if there are a lot of smart people advocating for something, even if two people are advocating totally different things, there’s some way in which both sides are probably right. And so we need to kind of figure that out and figure out how to reconcile and integrate those views into kind of a more complete unified theory
Quinn Lewandowski 48:32
suggests disregarding ethics, because criminal law, it’s theoretical, but I’m a family of strategies. I remember it. The lizard koski accused Stephen Jay Gould, I haven’t read gold. So I’m going with your couch, His work of pretending Lou Williams revolution never happened in biology. So he could criticize the pre existing paradigms, which had, in fact been overthrown, and frame it as a revolution. So all of your task, his criticism was, I wonder if that would work. If people people really want a revolution, and what you actually want to advocate is very close to the conventional wisdom, relatively speaking. You could misrepresent what the conventional wisdom is Yeah, I’m just curious
Suspended Reason 49:31
I’m curious crispy his thoughts on this but I you know, I’ve heard actually in some rationalists fears the term like a simplicity tax get tossed around for time, like academia and stuff, but basically this idea that like yeah, that, you know, if you look at like research findings, it’s, it’s usually the most counterintuitive and surprising findings in psychology that get most passed around where it’s like some tiny things, some tiny contributing factor has some Incredible outsized effect, and that’s what you know, it gets people buzzing and but in reality, like most actually true psychological findings tend to be the things that basically confirm common wisdom, because that’s what common wisdom is. We’ve had 1000s of years to test it and pass it on. It’s mostly right. I’m curious crispies thoughts on that?
Crispy Chicken 50:18
But yeah, I mean, I think the picture is, is very complicated. But there are two things that definitely jump out to me. One is that I think there is this basically what Quinn is saying, there’s this tendency to, if you can get away with calling something, the conventional wisdom and rejecting it, you’re golden. And I think a lot of people rush when they see that the times are already changing. And they haven’t, there’s not been a paper about it, to basically write a paper that says, ha, all of you thought this, but really, it’s that when everybody has already moved on, but no one has had time to write the paper yet. Right? And but common
Will Jarvis 51:01
knowledge, but it’s not, you know, explicit knowledge,
Crispy Chicken 51:05
right? And the complicated thing, right, is we want that paper written. But we’re basically writing it so that we are misrepresenting our own history, and it will become completely opaque to anybody who tries to study it. And I think this has happened a lot when people go back. So like, there are all these things like, did you know that people in the 50s thought x, and they’re referencing some paper, right? And I’m like, yeah, some academic in the 50s said, Everybody thinks this, and you’re gonna trust them like that. You think you think this guy’s like a nose? B is representing it properly to you, because he cared so much about somebody in 2020? thinking, Oh, look, this is something that can describe history perfectly to an objective observer, no way. And I think the other thing that happens, though, is that something that isn’t complicated enough, and is hard to publish? And if it has really good results, fine, you know, you’ll always get through them. But if it feels like, Oh, your results are good, they’re normal for a paper, but you didn’t change anything enough. And that’s not enough. And I think because of that, we ended up in this piston illogical situation where we’re not really ever certain of anything, because all of the confirming evidence wasn’t published, because anyone who got it was like, Am I going to spend, you know, three months publishing this paper that no one’s going to cite? Because they’ll just like the original study that found this No way. And so I think both of those are true, and where, you know, we try to find complicated things. Because that helps us like, you know, sound like we’re making a sophisticated advanced that no one else would have thought of. And we try to find simple things, by making it seem like the current idea of things is actually even so oversimplified from what is actually there? And I don’t, I don’t even know, I guess my main point would be I don’t think there’s a way to escape this. But I think there’s like, I don’t think there’s a way to negatively kind of like poke people out of this. But I think there’s a way to reward people for doing other stuff. And maybe that’s kind of the way forward. I think, traditionally, people have thought about this as like, how can we restructure things in order to be better? I don’t think so. I think this is actually very natural. It has nothing to do with academic systems, it has to do with people trying to get clout. But I think that there are ways to build up subcultures that like have different kind of dynamic dynamics. And I think the rationalists are a perfect example of this. And I don’t like I think there, there’s plenty to criticize there. But it is different. And I think I see that as the kind of the future where there is a space for lots of parallel fields that can take things from each other. And that you can write a paper and say, hey, look, I’m taking these assumptions from these places. And I’m going to write that way. And I think if things are a little bit less formalized, and it matters more, who your paper is passed around to, rather than what conference it gets into, that’s actually a possible future.
Suspended Reason 54:06
You want to give the knowledge logistics pitch, I feel like you’re all teed up for it.
Crispy Chicken 54:11
That’s true. So john nurse who I believe was on this product, oh, yeah,
Will Jarvis 54:17
Crispy Chicken 54:19
I has this term that he’s thrown around knowledge logistics, which I think I’m guessing it’s kind of in metaphor to information logistics, which is, you know, this field of like getting information where he needs to be. And his point is, like, Look, there are lots of things that lots of people know in lots of different fields. And there’s like is almost zero, like real credential value to passing this around to the right people who could make good use of it. And that’s ridiculous. Like, that’s actually most of it we need to do in science. Like there’s tons of knowledge being produced all the time. But like, a lot of it is being reproduced because and not even like to confirm right just in totally different spaces. Because we can’t pass the knowledge to different people because no When it’s no one’s job to do that, and it would be hard to make a job that does them. And I think you know, me and suspended and inexact science is basic pitch is, well, you know, we should do, we have the internet, and we have a lot more complicated ways of storing information. Basically, if you find something interesting, you should write something about it, that’s short and post about it. And we should have a reference point, not just to the original work, but to what is useful, what’s one useful part of it, and then that should be something that actually we consider high value. And I think it is really high value, you know, like, our friends on our server, literal banana, who I really admire the writings of, um, I would say, she’s my favorite living philosopher. She, you know, goes and looks at studies and she’s like, this makes sense. And this doesn’t. And here’s why I think so. And, and I think that’s kind of the most useful thing, right? Like, he’s earned the highest title for that for me. And I think that’s not that hard to create in our current spheres. It’s just very hard to create in the current institutional spheres. But I think that, you know, in this crisis, right COVID, there has become an opportunity to say, well, maybe knowledge acquisition and whatnot, we trust should change. And if that so then maybe we should kind of have this piecemeal view of it. Because if we keep sending people back to Hegel, every time they want to talk about dialectics, then people won’t talk about dialectics, they’ll use different metaphors, and will always be confused. But if some people say, Hey, here’s an interpretive piece of Hegel, and let’s talk about it. And there are ways of basically compartmentalizing this knowledge that I think we’re going to have a lot more people talking on the same page.
Will Jarvis 56:39
You know, crispier, I love that one of my favorite question questions to ask academics. So my wife, you know, she works in research labs, psychology research lab. And we’ll go to these, like yearly parties, you know, what I mean, and having that little country club, and you’re just like, all these, you know, psychology, academics, and I, and everybody starts drinking, and so I’m just the odd man out, right? You know, I’m not an academic. And I love to ask them, you know, what is common knowledge in your specific sub domain that would lay people would just find bizarre, you know, like, what’s, like, you know, everyone knows, but like, it’s not written down. But people just wouldn’t get and you just find the most surprising answers, like from people, it’s like, oh, yeah, we all know that this is true. But like, you know, learning does not transfer at all, you know, you have no learning transfer, you can’t learn how to learn like, this is a but because, you know, lay people would find this completely bizarre.
Crispy Chicken 57:32
Suspended Reason 57:34
fordo says that gossip, you know, is this kind of gossamer that holds fields together, that there’s all this information that’s so crucial to our field actually runs that gets passed orally, and therefore is never recorded, and will never actually understand these kind of discursive games historically, because the full game state in the context that people are optimizing within and playing within a lot of it as Yeah, like, like, you’re saying, Well, I’m a knowledge but not written down anywhere. Right? It
Will Jarvis 58:01
would make sense why, like, you know, NASA, in 2012, they tried to, you know, the Space Launch System, they’re like, what’s the biggest rocket engine, we’ve got f1, we used on the Saturn five, they went to try it and build it, they can’t build it anymore. They’ve got the plans. You know, it’s like that there’s this explicit knowledge that, you know, everyone needs to be able to talk about common knowledge, but it’s just lost, because no one wrote it down.
Crispy Chicken 58:23
Yeah, yeah, I think the sad thing is, in, in these soft fields, I think more than anything, it’s less that no one feels like it’s necessary and more that no one’s willing to stick their head out, right? Because you can really get screwed over if you talk about a lot of things that just maybe the public to him, like, maybe not everyone in your field likes, maybe invalidates some important persons, you know, research agenda to some extent, and it’s like, not the right time to publish it. And, and I think that’s the weird thing, which is, as far as I can tell, academics are pretty uncomfortable with informal notes. It feels like you’re creating an attack surface without any credit, without any chance of getting real credit for it. And I think that attack culture is like, is this key thing and I don’t know how to solve it, but I see it everywhere. Once I start to see it.
Will Jarvis 59:13
Do you think this is a, an? Okay, I, I have this thought, is this a new phenomena, in the sense that like, I feel like if akademie de Mia was somewhat less competitive, you know, it, there would be less pressure against these kinds of things. It feels like you know, when there’s very limited spots, and you’re trying to, you know, jam herself and one of them and elbow, the other guy out anything that will keep you out. And if you don’t mind me mentioning, Christiana, you’re an academic. Or you’re you know, you’re you’re gunning for the academic market. And, you know, your name is crispy chicken, like, you know, obviously, right. So, what do you think about that?
Crispy Chicken 59:48
Yeah, I mean, I agree. So I hold a controversial opinion, which is, I think it’s the result of the professionalization of science that basically Was it john Livengood, I think who use this term? First, I’m in an interview with suspended, that’s where I heard it at least. And basically that, you know, scientists become a job, you go, right. And you do science for a while, and you get promoted, in some sense. And it’s more distributed than, you know, company with a CEO and everything, but it’s its job in this sense, in a way that, you know, way back when it was just a bunch of rich dudes, basic widows however they wanted. Exactly. And then even not that long ago, it was a result of government programs that were structured completely differently. They were not this kind of distributed market. And I think that it’s unfortunate that the current dynamics of the distributed market are, there are certain tokens that are that have actual value, and those are called papers and citations. And because of that, everyone is fighting over those, but we can exchange what papers and citations mean, right? And that we have, and so certain things count, and certain things don’t and certain things count in a certain way that helps. And I think that’s actually gotten made the dynamics really bad. And it’s just not good for knowledge acquisition, I don’t know what happened. If it was less competitive. I’m not, it might work. I just don’t, I really, really don’t know. But I think there’s especially this thing, which is, most papers are written, this isn’t true in all fields. But let’s say like computer science, for instance, just huge field, right? Most papers are written by PhD students. And most PhD students are not going to become academics. So you are basically putting something into the system that is going to try that like from someone who’s trying to get out of the system. And it doesn’t mean they don’t care. But there’s an incentive, right to not like do a five year program to not like do a comprehensive study to try to get these papers out. Because you’re competing with all the other people who are just trying to get papers out. And if you stop, you’re not going to win, no one’s going to stop and applaud and say, Look, you’re the real scientist. So like, you know, there’s, there’s a line and everyone says, Oh, you just got to kind of do the work and do good and whatever. And I think that’s true in as far as we want. But we can’t disincentivize people by telling them, oh, that’s the morally right thing to do, I think I think you have to change the market. And the market right now is having a PhD, is what allows you to be a researcher, even if you’re not in academia, and it’s very difficult to work yourself way, way up without that. And so I think because of that, we’ve created this token of the PhD, and we evaluate it in a way that everyone now gains the value of it, which is unfortunate.
Suspended Reason 1:02:35
I this is kind of what you bring up as a very Alexey goosy point as well, I believe, well, which is, you know, the the kind of professionalization of science and kind of the need to you know, that it has fundamentally shifted from a kind of aristocratic operation I. And, you know, it’s not even that I think that like an aristocratic operation is is optimal in any way. But I think personally, whenever I see institutions that like, basically, it sort of seems like you either need to, like burn them down and start again, or they’re getting badly out competed by startups. I mean, this is, you know, getting back to your conversation with Colin A while back about inadequate equilibria. We’ve obviously talked about a lot of inadequate equilibria in academic scholarship and knowledge economies today. But like, Why Why is it possible that a startup can compete Microsoft, like, That’s bizarre? There has to be something very weird happening in that institution, that despite all its money, and its talent and its resources. And I guess, you know, I’m more and more have been thinking in terms of that, that when an institution ends up this way, it’s the result of selection games, and there being bad selection games. And it’s not necessarily that, you know, like the selection games that lead to, you know, which would largely be self selection, I guess, that leads to people being science tests in the pre modern era, which is like, having enough money and then wanting to spend your life and your money on the scientific pursuit doesn’t necessarily the optimal criteria, but they’re not terrible, either. And there are I think there are a lot of bad kind of motivations or criteria or selection pressures, you know, filters that lead to Yeah, just I mean, bad incentive structures. I’m not saying anything that new here, but
Will Jarvis 1:04:29
without. Well, we talked to Don bravin, as well on the podcast A while back. He’s like an 85 year old guy. He’s a physicist. He ran this program at BP called venture research. They got a couple Nobel Prizes out of it for like 6 million bucks. And his whole thing was, you know, he just give like people just enough money like they live on comfortably, not that much. pursue whatever they wanted to pursue. You know, he checked in with him like every three years, like How’s it going? Is it still really difficult and he thinks He thought there was like this real shift in the 70s. where, you know, it used to be, you can get a position, you know, pretty much anybody who want to want to get a position making, you know, 30 $40,000 a year just kind of you could skate by state, whatever you want. And that and that really changed in the 70s, as things got more competitive. I don’t know if that’s his crazy thought. But seems like
Suspended Reason 1:05:19
everything changed in the 70s. Every time I see people point to an inflection point in the economy and social institutions and science, whatever it is, it’s like 1972 something I don’t know. But something.
Will Jarvis 1:05:31
That’s right. That’s right. There’s a whole website WTF happened in 1971? When it whatever. Yeah, it’s, it’s something very odd about that period of time. Yeah.
Suspended Reason 1:05:46
I don’t know. I mean, this is kind of my personal bias. So actually, some of the very first stuff that I started working on and thinking about seriously, but eight years ago, was nostalgia, I came out before I was into literary criticism, I was really into pop music. And I mean, pop music very broadly here, like anything that goes from like the Beatles to like, you know, some folk. I mean, modern folk, I mean, right? Like, there’s like folk music, as it was originally defined doesn’t even exist anymore. folk music is an oral tradition. Like as soon as you’re recording and writing down the notes, you’re no longer enough. There’s folk music doesn’t exist anymore. So it’s just pop music with folk stylings, right. It’s the aesthetics of folk without any of the core structural elements. But there’s kind of this pervasive nostalgia in music culture, in my opinion, it’s been there for a while. Simon Reynolds has written a book on this called retro mania. But I mean, you see it everywhere you see it in the folk scene, obviously, where people just as soon as you pick up an acoustic guitar, people think you’re the most authentic thing this side of, you know, there’s the obviously there’s kind of the Dylan at Newport controversy, where Dylan you know, plugs in and goes electric, and he gets booed. And maybe this is, you know, a little over exaggerated and historical record. But regardless, people were peeved. And it’s like, why, I mean, if what you care about anything you should, in theory care about with Bob Dylan is about like, you know, the kind of ideology and the lyrics and those sound craft and whether the guitar is plugged in to an app or not really just seems besides the point, and yet the symbol of the kind of authenticity of the natural, and the historic, is just so important. And if you read somebody like Paul Fussell on class, you see that like, the kind of old money and the extremely wealthy people don’t even fuck with the future. I mean, like, like, being at all interested in the future is like some cringe middle class class, you know, like, you wear you wear clothes that are like, you know, cotton and these kinds of like non synthetic like organic materials, and you have all these kinds of like, you know, you eat, like, whole wheat bread, that so I was like whole grains and kernels in it. And so about texture and grain and the kind of authenticity of like, the nostalgic experience, and there’s all these pastoral complexes, and there’s this great book called sitting country sometimes reverses that might be country and city by Raymond Williams, where he talks about what he calls the escalator of nostalgia. And so he, you know, digs into the record, and he finds a bunch of people in the, like the 20s, or 30s, you know, in England who are saying, Man, I grew up in the last real pastoral age of England, we had a countryside, and it’s gone, the the British character, like it’s gone, it’s destroyed. We’ve left the Golden Age. And then she says, okay, like, let’s go back 40 years, and then he finds another set of a dozen commentators saying the same thing. And he follows this escalator all the way to the Dark Ages. And then he says, Well, unless the people in the 17th century really thought the Dark Ages were hot shit, I mean, they’re even Golden Ages, historically, always think that they’re in the fall period. I don’t think there’s ever really, I don’t know, maybe not maybe Renaissance era. I don’t know too much about the history there. But there are so many Golden Ages that things are in the middle of the fall. And I think we have to be careful about this kind of what I might call like, an atypical present bias, which is this belief that like, the conditions of the present are uniquely about the present and uniquely true of the present. And the past was different. And we think the past is different, because we’ve heard representations from like, our parents sigh, like, where do we get these? We didn’t live it like, it wouldn’t surprise me if in 50 years, people look back and say, Man, science was so efficient in 2021. And maybe that’s because it’s just all been downhill since then. But maybe it’s also because this is just how brains work. They get nostalgic. It’s very
Will Jarvis 1:09:33
difficult to, you know, view once at an age, you know, objectively, it seems quaint, sorry.
Quinn Lewandowski 1:09:40
Okay. It occurs to me that it could be a effect on what gets repeated and broadcasted. I remember Steven Pinker saying something like people who say that things are very bad sound like concerned empathic people trying to draw your attention to problems and people saying that things are very good sound like they’re trying to sound You’re something? I’m not saying that that way. But I think there’s a question where this is a sociological question of what gets selected and repeated and emphasized or a psychological question where all the individual people feel like they’re in
Suspended Reason 1:10:17
100%. And even as you say that I mean, it’s like, somebody says, Well, you know, the murder rates down, people don’t think, okay, they’re saying the murder rates down, they’re thinking, Okay, they’re either like excusing the president ideology. Yeah. Or if they’re complaining about it, they’re showing that they cared, right? So it’s like, when we actually think about the meaning we’re really thinking about how are they trying to twist the stick? Like, what are they trying to change or accomplish? Or do politically, we’re not actually thinking just about the object level claim as what the meaning is. And so it makes sense that people are optimizing for this kind of implicature of where people stand socially and what they’re trying to accomplish politically? Yeah,
Crispy Chicken 1:10:53
I agree that it all comes back to torque semantics. And, and just for, you know, from my part in my, the field that I know about, I will say, you know, I said, all this criticism about science, about machine learning about NLP, I think we are making more progress now than in any other point in my field history like very, very clearly 100%. Now, I think I see the issues. And I see, you know, what I can’t publish. And I, that’s where I come from. And so I think that’s 100% true. But I think the other part of it, which has become very complicated in the modern world, and which stops me from publishing a lot of things, even under crispy chicken, is people’s impressions of things are also very hard to manipulate directly, even if you’re like, you’re saying, Oh, I’m not saying that you can’t convince him that you’re not saying that, right. Like, so it’s like you in order to feel understood, and you manipulate people’s impressions. And that’s hard. And so, you know, for AI, for instance, I fundamentally don’t believe that the idea of AGI artificial general intelligence is coherent, like I don’t even not even is impossible, I just don’t even think it means anything in particular. And I, you know, that’s an entire nother debate. But if I say that, I come across as a Luddite, as like trying to be contrarian or something like that, right, I have all of these impressions that I’m giving, and there is no way that I can avoid them. And so I think there’s this funny thing, where one of the reasons we might have a typical present bias, I think it’s a great term is because in order to feel understood, we have to almost only say the things that other people would kind of agree with. And those are the impressions you can surprise them with.
Quinn Lewandowski 1:12:31
I’m not crucial, but there’s a wonderful, not crucial, so probably not important. Someday, I’d like to wear a really good live journal post a while ago, which was entirely the structure Why’s the recent tragic events prove that my political beliefs are correct. And there are, I mean, the nature of the tragic events, and the political beliefs are not specified. So he essentially extracted the structure krump bunch of articles, which were saying about specific tragic events and specific beliefs, and then wrote that, and I think of that, every time I see it stuck with me, and
Crispy Chicken 1:13:16
I love it so much, because it gets this thing that means suspended, always talk about which is basically, you know, this is problem where if you make an observation about the game that people are playing, they’ll shift the game in order to make that observation not true. So you can’t catch them. Right. This is an observation that I think is best described by Adam, your ism on Twitter, who was on our podcast that I really love his I would follow him on Twitter, if you guys are interested, he’s great. And he like, I think the issue that me and Smith are trying to deal with is how to describe this without changing everything, right, without forcing people to change so that our descriptions remain true. And I think the way you do that, is by essentially meta level mimetics. Right? Yeah, by describing the meme in a way that it doesn’t point in a specific enough meme that people will be willing to change. And no one is going to stop doing that because of the live journal posts. Because it’s too vague. No one can present it as evidence against it. And so it’s a description that actually has longevity, because people won’t change it even given the description. Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 1:14:15
that works. Yeah.
Suspended Reason 1:14:18
And I think this gets back to, to the sorry to cut you off. But the anti end activity of these kinds of systems, like when people are in this kind of competition, which I think sort of characterizes like elite, career climbing, or institutions. You’re in this situation in which even if you sort of do learn some of the rules of the game, they’re active incentives, not to publish them because you’re essentially leaking information to other people about what you know, and how you’re going to behave. And that will change you know, their behavior and how they optimize around you because you’re in the system. But sorry, where are you going to say there Quinn
Quinn Lewandowski 1:15:00
I was asked how to spell that guy’s name so I can follow him on Twitter.
Crispy Chicken 1:15:05
Oh, it’s just at like a capital A by m i r is m underscore like Amir ism as if it was you know a philosophy oh yeah
Suspended Reason 1:15:17
got it are our podcast is fail storage dot substack calm I’m gonna do a little plug here it’s up FEL s t o r ch terrible name strategically but you know it’s a will be high on the Google results. Well,
Crispy Chicken 1:15:36
it’s costly signal that we actually care about this event because we’re willing to ruin our PR over it right? I’m proud to see suspended plugging in and doing proper PR because I’m always looking at a PR guy who’s already sold my soul and only does politics anymore. I am infecting other people with my memes.
Will Jarvis 1:15:53
I love it. I love it. Well, we’ll include links down in the show notes. All yells work. I’ve got one more big question i and how are you guys doing on time? I know we’re a bit over
Suspended Reason 1:16:04
time, whatever. Yeah. Okay. I’m happy to chat. Cool.
Will Jarvis 1:16:09
suspended, you talked about, you know, Paul fossils book on American class, it seems like the narrative and to quit. And I talked about Charles Murray’s coming apart a couple of weeks ago. And we had a lot of fun. You know, we read it together and talked about it. But I’m curious, the narrative around America being a classless society seems to have really fallen apart within the last 40 years. You know, what’s your take on this? And what do you think about class in America at this point? And I know, it’s very broad. It’s not a small question.
Suspended Reason 1:16:44
What do I think about class in America at this point? You know, I think one kind of view which I think, you know, when I say something like a typical President, I am introducing right a torque, I’m trying to twist like, I think basically, people overrate how unique or distinct our ages, you see these constant hysteria is that a certain politician is like, constitutionally unprecedented. Like, if you compare Trump’s constitutional breaches with those of so many US presidents, he’s really just not
Will Jarvis 1:17:20
gonna pack the court. You don’t get the decision I want.
Suspended Reason 1:17:22
Yeah, FDR. Yeah, there’s just so many deep constitutional violations. And so you know, I think, you know, habeas corpus has been suspended. Yeah, there have been Alien and Sedition Acts, were speaking badly about the President could get you thrown in jail. I mean, this is just this is what politics is, this is what history is. And, you know, so I think kind of one intervention I like in this or one kind of, like alternate framing is that, actually, the aberration was like 1945, to like, 1995, maybe, that there’s this kind of weird period in America, where the middle class flourished, and there’s a bunch of growth, and everything was great. And history kind of was like, well take a little side break, and, and you had, like, you know, just kind of Clinton era politics, right, and era politics. And that kind of history is restarted. So and we shouldn’t think about 2016 or 2021 as like a historical aberration, rather, we should think that our parents generation was maybe a little historically weird. And that has led us to be a bit more surprised by history worth bearing back. So maybe that’s the first thing I’ll say about this kind of idea that like the idea of a class America has disappeared. We’ve had some pretty serious class stratification in this country. And some pretty legible class stratification in this country. The other thing I’ll say about classes that I think when so if we think about anti inductive systems, some of the criteria I mean, I don’t think systems either are or aren’t anti inductive, but I think there’s a spectrum where they’re more or less I mean, the market you know, the stock market isn’t perfectly anti inductive, it’s not perfectly adequate. let’s not kid ourselves. There are all these inefficiencies constantly, people are making money off, off their off their silly bets. And so, right, so if we’re thinking about what is required of an anti inductive system, getting back to crispy glass earlier, a big thing is like information has to leak, and players have to actually be able to act on that information. So you know, there could be certain kinds of leakages in the stock market, where there’s if things are totally out of equilibria, there’s serious money to be made, you could 10 times your investment, but you need to have $10 million to get in the game. There’s just like a certain level investment. And so in that situation, everybody other than the people who have $10 million or more could know the correct move, but unless you know they can coordinate cool 10 million bucks, they can act on it so that their system won’t become Adequate unless players both can get access to this information and also can act on it. Now Historically, the way that class has been kind of reified and kept stable, is that there are all these markers that cannot be copied materially, so you have kind of royal purple, which I Gosh, I don’t know when I think it goes back, at least to Romans that may go back earlier. But they’re the sea snails in the Mediterranean, that if you squish them up, they let off this kind of purple mucus secretion. And if you take about 10,000, sea snails that you’ve collected, and then you boil them alive, and then you crush them, you can maybe dye one garment with purple. And this is pretty much the only known way to get reliable, deep, rich purple garments. And so it becomes very easy to essentially enforce in signal class because there are material restraints. So even if everybody knows that this color, purple signifies upper class them, it doesn’t matter, because nobody can afford to get somebody to go find 10,000 snails and make this tyrian purple. Um, I think material conditions have changed a lot. And as a result, a lot of the markers of class have changed from material things, to immaterial things. And those might be ideological positions, which are costly to hold if you’re kind of poor, because if you actually act on those positions, or act them out in daily life, they’ll put you at a disadvantage. But if you’re at a certain level of removal from kind of daily problems, or from precarity, and the social structure, you can hold an advocate those positions. I don’t know, I’m spitballing now, but those are my thoughts. Makes a
Quinn Lewandowski 1:21:37
lot of sense. I’m going to go back over this later. See if I can try it internalize that. That makes a lot of sense.
Crispy Chicken 1:21:47
Yeah, I totally agree with really everything has banded, said and it’s it’s beautiful to hear. And I think, um, you know what I take away at this. So I’m learning Mandarin. And I just like I am interested in understanding Chinese social dynamics, because it’s this whole world, especially because it’s this whole, you know, internet, like, Chinese people only use Chinese apps in general, it’s not very common for them to use Western apps, because there’s a huge ecosystem of Chinese apps, they are allowed to download them, it’s just not something that happens as much. And so like, I think something that you see there is your it does put the American class system in stark contrast, because I would say the big difference in some senses, so like, the way you get into college in China is called the GAO. And it is, exactly, it’s the big test. That’s what really matters. And a lot of people, right, like their entire life is because they got a really good score on that test. And from then on, it’s not like they didn’t work hard. But they had an opportunity that I didn’t have. I don’t think things like that exist in the US very easily. Yeah, I think there was tech for a while. And the right people got in on it, you know, like the right people, it’s not good. It’s just like, they’re, that’s who got in on it. And now they feel like they’re right. And I and that’s very, very much not true anymore. And there’s no other clear way to to go forward. Because it’s still tech right tech is still the main driver, I think of value in America. And other than that, it’s not clear where to go. And so I think a lot of the battles become social. And social battles do not lend themselves to social mobility, because any kind of mobility will be anti deductively, anti inductively factored out, because if someone sees this metal thing, a lot of people will do it. And people will start thinking, Oh, this thing that people are doing that makes them look, high class is actually just something that people are doing to see my class, and I don’t believe that anymore. Um, and so like, if everything we rely on for social mobility has to do with social interaction, then you’re screwed. And I think that’s the that’s the position that we’re in, as a society in America.
Suspended Reason 1:23:59
It’s also like, what is the the valuable byproduct of these kinds of social classes? I mean, as you talked about, and I read some posts, he wrote, one of the reasons that we actually cherish anti inductive games is because they constantly push players, to the edge and beyond. And the kind of edge of what is possible is constantly evolving, because these players are competing. And you can get men on the moon, because the Soviet Union and the United States are competing, you have these kind of positive, socially positive byproducts. But social status games, I think, have to be structured, right? There’s zero sum and they have to be structured in a productive way so that there’s some kind of byproduct that we get out of them. Otherwise, they’re just a waste of everyone’s time and energy.
Crispy Chicken 1:24:43
I totally agree. And, and I think there’s this weirdness right now, where if someone displays some, you know, great talent for something, it’s just not clear how to invest in that right now. I just don’t think that it’s very easy to actually get something out of that except with very, very certain tasks. And I think that’s has to do with a lot of things, mostly with the structure of the labor market right now, which like, I won’t even get into, it is just like, I don’t know that much about it. And it’s but I’ve been reading up on this stuff, but it does seem like right now, you know, it’s just this situation of, maybe you can find friends with your with your hobby, we probably can’t find a career probably can’t find a lifestyle. And if we’re in that situation, then where did the byproducts go? Even if they’re available?
Will Jarvis 1:25:30
Well, is that part of, you know, you talk about your field, being very healthy, you know, like, really like, end of the day, you know, there’s real problems, but it’s pretty healthy. A lot of progress. But you know, your field is, is, is not regulated. It’s a lot. It’s one of the last places, you know, biomedical stuff, it’s incredibly credibly regulated billion dollars to get a drug through the FDA, through FDA, you know, and it’s like, the physical, it’s hard to do things in the physical world now in a way that it wasn’t, you know, pre 1970s. And so like, there’s just limited areas where there can be real growth.
Crispy Chicken 1:26:06
Now, I totally agree with that. And, you know, it’s what Peter Thiel says, there’s a lot of innovation in bits and not as much innovation and atoms. And I think there’s a reason for that, which is, if you if you made something, then someone would pass a law about it, and you’d be totally screwed unless you’re a big player, right. And like, this is what Tesla did, right? They basically were like, oh, we’re not going to sell. If you don’t let us selling your like, in our own dealerships, we’re just not going to sound places where you have to sell to a car dealership. And because they were big enough, they could take that hit, and then places change, because they took that hit. But if you’re small, you can’t do that. And so everyone’s playing around with software, because you can’t stop me at least right now from writing a program and from a lot of people using it. And from that being cool. And I think by the way, this is the arbitrage. So I would say easily half, if not more of the most important papers in my field in the last two years. Were from industry labs. And I think that’s because, you know, peer review is a kind of regular regulation, right. And a lot of these things were self published at first, right? And I think one of the crazy things right, is I bet you guys have heard about GPT. Three, yeah, and PG three was not published at an NLP conference, even though it’s a very, very language focused if you asked me, right, it was published at neurips, you know, Neural Information Processing systems. And I think that’s to avoid regular regulation, because I think the larger neural network space is just so big, it’s hard to regulate, and much more distributed. So I think you’re I think you’re absolutely right, I think there’s this element of regulation. And I think the problem now is right, there are so many things you have to pay for people are getting nervous about like just the the ability for you to kind of sell fun, like Kickstarter, or Indiegogo or for like substack for people to pay for subjects. Now, there are too many subjects, right? There’s no regulation, there’s kind of too much competition, right? I have this kind of line that like, if there’s too much competition in a market, there are too many options. The biggest problem is actually just selecting anything, even if it’s already good, but you have to select from a million options, then you’re already incurring too much overhead on the customer, and maybe they won’t buy it. So I think we’re in danger of getting into that zone. And I think software is already kind of there. But I agree with you that, you know, biomedical is a perfect example of it’s very clear that because of regulation, there’s just can’t be as much innovation, even though life sciences are moving pretty fast, I think get 10 acts on that if there was if there was like a regulation, but obviously, you know, like we’re in the middle of COVID there’s, there’s reasons to have regulation. And so it’s really not clear to me or you should fall down on that.
Will Jarvis 1:28:33
Yeah. Well, and I do think, you know, life sciences. I think it’s fairly healthy. But the translation is like terrible. Like the railroad Queen shared a place with me recently, where the guy who invented the incubator for babies, you know, he just like invited, what was it quit? Like he invited babies to come down and like try it or something. It’s just like,
Quinn Lewandowski 1:28:54
yeah. He was testing on babies that were that they thought were gonna die anyway. And people were basically saying, well, they’re gonna die anyway. So I guess you can use them for science. That was fine. That content, we would let him do that today, even though it’s really hard to articulate a downside.
Suspended Reason 1:29:16
There’s an amazing William James passage in one of his books, I think he’s trying to figure out whether, you know, this was probably an 1890s I don’t know maybe early 1900s. He’s trying to figure out whether that kind of climbing instinct is learned or whether it’s kind of programmed in there the same way that like, you know, a fun just knows how to walk. And so he he has this great line. He says, you know, I’m not brave enough to try it. But perhaps if science is lucky, one day, there will be a disgruntled scientist, Bachelor out there who you know, recently widowed, will be in possession of a young child. And with the mere application of one blister each morning on the heel of this You know through through a torch, you know just stuff that just is you know crazy nowadays but yeah I love that those pesky ethics Why do we ever listen to there’s no problem with this regarding ethics nothing you could I couldn’t end up bad. Yeah. to share with you
Crispy Chicken 1:30:21
guys there’s William James which I am now shared screen sharing on my screen. That’s that’s the cowboy that invented American pragmatism if you wanted to know where philosophy comes around
Suspended Reason 1:30:33
we could do like a little based or cringe segment here, you know, bass Vik enstein? James definitely, I mean, I don’t know the pragmatist, you know, for thinking about like, who is foundational and meaning crispy and hazard and the other people who are kind of in this cruise think and I feel like, yeah, pragmatism just seemed so important. And it’s crazy how under looked, it was kind of in the history of philosophy and thought, but
Crispy Chicken 1:30:54
delay is, in my opinion.
Will Jarvis 1:31:01
Well, crispy and suspended. I have to run to Asheville codecs. 10 meetups, I’m running actually. Very nice. Ah, yeah, I have one more question. And I got to be careful, I phrase this. This is, which gets back to everything we’ve been talking about. You know, Quinn, I don’t know if you share this with me, but instinctively, and I’ve really enjoyed reading your guys’s work since y’all reached out. It’s really good. And I highly recommend it. But before that, you know, I instinctively whenever I saw things that were continental, adjacent, like continental philosophy, Jason, I would like just run away screaming, you know, I mean, like, I’m not, I’m just not going to touch it. You know, I just thought like, what, you know, people are talking this certain way. And I’m like, I remember my, you know, critical theory classes. I’m like, are you even saying anything? It’s sometimes at points. So I guess, I guess my question is, could you steal man continental philosophy? Is that too tall a task for the end of the podcast?
Suspended Reason 1:32:07
That is, you know, taken, taken broadly, that is a task. But you know, I think the way that interaction works is that people don’t actually exactly answer each other’s questions. Rather, they use it as an impetus to say something, you know, valuable to keep things going. So I’ll take that tack. Yeah, I think I think I can, you know, steal man certain ideas that that get that people see as a hallmark, you know, obviously, it’s a big field that has had a lot of ideas and a lot of disagreements, but a take, like the social construction of reality. So I think one of the ideas that’s been blowing my mind Lately, I’ve been catching up on Alfred Schutz, who was a kind of like phenomenologist sociologists, he kind of tried to sync up the disciplines. And so his whole thing,
basically, and this is such a deep kind of less wrong idea that I hope I, I’m not sure if I can explain it very well. So I hope it kind of just resonates. There’s this idea of kind of like decisions roles where like, if we say, This item is x, if we categorize it this way, now we know what to do with it. So you walk in and your doctor wants to put you in a box. And if you can figure out what your diagnosis is, and slap a name on it. The name isn’t so much important, but the name carries with it a set of treatments like okay, now we know what to do with you. I can either like refer you to somebody or I can give you a prescription or there’s a set of behaviors that come from the category right. And this is in I think, a big part of Viet koski is philosophy, which I think partly comes out for him of the General Semantics trajectory, sino si Hayakawa following up and expanding the ideas of korzybski talks a little about that she talks about abstraction and the way that people say, Oh, you’re part of this category, therefore, I’m going to treat you this way. And it creates all these kinds of errors and thinking because the category maybe isn’t the best way to carve it here. It’s not relevant to the task. And so, you know, I think a core idea of pragmatism, for example, is that like, the concepts, the way you carve up the space always has to be, it’s always, there is no right carving, there’s a pragmatically correct carving that distinguishes the way you want to distinguish for the task at hand. And that draws the lines where you need to draw them to accomplish a goal, right? So, um, you know, to kind of pill maybe people who lean rationalist out there, this idea is very deeply continental. I think that probably its best proponent is offered shorts, but it comes out and that B can begins it becomes the very basis of this concept of the social construction of reality. And so the idea of the social construct of reality comes from so shuts, has this idea that we basically have, he calls it typification. So we look out to the world we say, Oh, that’s a dog. And now we know how to interact with the dog. Like there’s certain things we can do in public with a dog and there’s certain things like if it’s a pitbull, we might be a little worried. So because of category As a pitbull, now we’re going to be a little worried. And so this like, deeply guides us, William James, he has this idea that like perception might be this blooming, buzzing confusion, but we put it into this kind of we schematize it, we turn into a bunch of categories that are related. And now we know how to behave to it. And it feels under control, even as the reality is that it’s still very fluid and messy. These constructs these concepts we have don’t actually exist in nature, they’re aspects of the map. We design these concepts in order to get things pragmatically done in our lives. These carvings don’t exist in nature, Plato is wrong, right? There is no such thing as the form of a table. So if you start thinking about it that way, well, we’re walking around with all these constructs, these constructed concepts, and they determine deeply our perception, they determine how we act, they determine what we think things are, they determine they structure our perception before it even hits our like higher cognitive functions. I mean, I don’t know if we really need to get into that seems to go to too much out on a branch to say that maybe there’s like these levels of perception. But in predictive processing, you could see these kinds of categorizations happening very early in the process, so that you can never break out of the categories, there is only the categories you live in this kind of prism, this matrix of constructs. Well, that’s starting sound a lot like a constructed reality that you live in. And where did that reality come from? Well, people invented it. When people say reality is a social construct, socially constructed, I think they’re performing a torque maneuver. What they really mean is that a lot of the reality that we take for granted, that we act on that we reify, or centralize it’s just being a part of the world is, in fact, just part of our map, that we live in our map and not the territory. And that aspects of the map, which are socially constructed, and pragmatically constructed, are constantly influencing our behavior and our all we really have at the end of the day. Sure, physical things exist. They’re not denying physical reality at all.
But they’re saying that effectively our navigation of the world is in this deep social constructed social reality prism. We can’t quite escape it. And like, like I kind of alluded to before, it’s this torque maneuver where they’re saying social reality is constructed because it’s revolutionary. Yes, they are overstepping. But everybody oversteps. That’s how discourse works. People don’t say x is a little like this. And like this, they say x is why they say meaning is what the author intends, they say, meaning is what the reader interprets. And then you have two people who are standing on the opposite side saying no meaning is this meaning is that no, no meaning is this process that dynamically happens between the speaker and the listener, and there’s no real truth to it. But people feel the need to go out on these limits and exaggerate. So yes, I mean, I can I can sort of hold the Continental folks accountable for the fact that they’ve been misinterpreted in some sense, it’s very predictable how they’ve been misinterpreted, and that people think that they’re literally denying physical reality, that they’re not naturalists in some sense that scientists identify as naturalist. But on the other hand, I think if we were able to extend a little bit of interpretive charity, we would also be able to get a lot of insight out of them.
Will Jarvis 1:38:08
Gotcha. Definitely. That’s, that’s really well put in you know, you know, where should someone get started? You know, like if someone were to, okay, anything particular
Suspended Reason 1:38:22
the things I love. So I think, if you’re john heritage has a great book called Garfinkel and ethnomethodology which is primarily about Harold Garfinkel and his kind of theory ethnomethodology which actually interestingly, so, you know, continental theory, roughly like in the kind of intellectual narrative, there’s like a structuralism you know, in like the 50s and 60s, and then that becomes like post structuralism in the 70s. And it kind of coincides with post modernity. And so there was kind of this alternate response to structuralism, which was ethno methodology and it was a different approach and it never really took off. I think it might be a more interesting approach than post structuralism perfect personally. But the best people there are Garfinkel and Kenneth Lieberman, and they’re very much working in the continental tradition because they’re phenomenologist first and foremost, like shuts. But if you want to get I think the best intros to these thoughts are john Heritage’s book, Garfinkel and ethnomethodology has a chapter on phenomenology and it covers kind of the typification stuff that I talked about. The second thing for burdah would be he has this great collection of essays called the field of cultural production, that is all about I mean, he just has such a rich kind of conceptual space. He sees these people kind of in art or in academia as working in these fields where there’s a space of possibles and the space of possibles have these kind of incentives attached to them and certain amounts of symbolic capital. You know, his, I guess to give a final pitch for Purdue. Bordeaux’s, symbolic capital ideas in the 60s 70s 80s are basically an alternate invention of signaling theory and They happen concurrently in different disciplines almost totally isolated from each other. But human signalling i think is most originally thought of through Bordeaux’s. like 70s and 80s sociological work. It’s Yeah, those are my interests.
Will Jarvis 1:40:12
Yeah. Awesome. They’re already on the way to my house. That’s super cool. That’s super cool. Definitely check this out. Quinn, that any any last thoughts? Any questions?
Quinn Lewandowski 1:40:24
Oh, I think I learned a lot.
Will Jarvis 1:40:29
Yeah, absolutely. crispy. It’s been I’d love to have you guys back on with Quentin. If you guys are ever interested.
Suspended Reason 1:40:35
Be blessed. That sounds. Yeah, that sounds lovely. I mean, yeah, I got I want to talk selection game at some point. And I would love to hear Yeah, what you guys are interested in working on?
Will Jarvis 1:40:48
Absolutely, absolutely. Cool. Well, one more time. Where can people find you guys work? Where would you like to us to send them? links and everything. But you know what the goal is? Yeah.
Crispy Chicken 1:40:59
So Google for
Suspended Reason 1:41:02
the two I can think of are the inexact sciences.github.io. And then fail storage dot substack. calm.
Will Jarvis 1:41:13
Perfect. Awesome. Thanks, guys.
Suspended Reason 1:41:17
Thank you. Pleasure.
Will Jarvis 1:41:26
Thanks for listening. We’ll be back next week with a new episode of narratives.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai