Rico Penguin

/Rico Penguin

About Rico Penguin

Rico is an associate producer at Gamblit Games. He makes prototypes, writes stories, and occasionally vanishes off the face of the Earth.

The Time Traveler – Another case of Flawed Fatalism

  Today we look a bit deeper into the case of the time traveler that I made up yesterday. This is somewhat of a rehash but a bit of a deeper explanation on why Fatalism is Fatally Flawed. We first must establish a few things.

  Firstly the timeline that we are currently in is ‘the’ future. According to Fatalism it is the set of events that is already going to happen and thusly is unavoidable. Now I know some of you might be saying “but the mere knowledge of the set of events in the future immediately changes them” but we’ll save the millions of obvious problems with Fatalism and deal with this one ;).

  Now secondly we take into considering the individual who is at the end of time (well close to the end) and has all the information of history leading up to that point as well as the availability of time travel. He’s a smart fellow indeed, for those of you that think it would be a lady you can replace the male tones in this story with female, heck I think I will too. Guys are too busy killing one another to use time travel, unless it was for more killing ;).

  So this time traveler decides that she really likes President Kennedy, she has always been upset that he was killed off and decides that she is going to back in time the day before the event (any point can be used I’m just using day before for simplicity) and tells him that if he goes he will be killed and explains her time traveling tricks. Kennedy just happens to be a big fan of this sort of thing and decides to trust her and does not go on the motorcade and likewise he survives, paradox’s aside of how this might effect the future (you can change the story to put the women born before Kennedy’s shooting to fix any issues of birth) we now have an entirely different future than “the Fatalist Future” however you’ll find that this in no way negates fatalism.

  Because Fatalism does not entail that the future is unavoidable, it entails that a future is unavoidable. Which frankly is hardly a revelation, because if this ultimate form of freedom (changing history itself) does not get broken under the tenets of Fatalism than I can see in no way how Fatalism really entails anything other than stating the painfully obvious nature of history. It happened and thusly it has happened, yes…hard to argue with that. Circular reasoning masked in a blanket of shiny terminology is still circular reasoning, and likewise Fatalism is Fatally Flawed because no amount of altering the past, present, or future would ever cause it to be untrue which means that there is no set pattern of events that must happen in order for it to happen. It only requires that a set of patterns happen, which is inevitable since it’s sort of a necessity for time and space.

  So that’s it for today, just felt I should get this little bit out because it’s what I’ll be discussing in my class tomorrow to hopefully put the final nail in the coffin of this (to me) moronic metaphysical concept, I’m starting to wonder what the rules are for making a popular metaphysical view. “Take a completely logical point, attach a bunch of wildly unrelated or miscoded points, and slap on a grandiose conclusion.”

By | 2009-02-24T17:14:58+00:00 February 24th, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on The Time Traveler – Another case of Flawed Fatalism

Fatalism – Finish him!

  We look today at another metaphysical argument. So lets just dive right in!

The Argument for Fatalism
(1) There exists now a set of propositions describing everything that might happen in the future.
(2) Every proposition is either true or else false.
(3) If (1) and (2), then there exists now a set of true propositions completely describing the future.
(4) If there exists now a set of true propositions completely describing the future, then whatever will happen in the future is already unavoidable.
(5) Whatever will happen in the future is already unavoidable.

  The first premise is a pretty easy to grasp idea, if you were to create every possible set of actions from the beginning of time till end of the infinitely many sets one of them will in fact describe everything that has happened, likewise it’ll describe everything that not just ‘might’ but everything that will happen. For those curious as defined by the wonderful world of Wikipedia a propositions is as follows:

In logic and philosophy, the term proposition refers to either (a) the "content" or "meaning" of a meaningful declarative sentence or (b) the pattern of symbols, marks, or sounds that make up a meaningful declarative sentence.

– Wikipedia

    Likewise the second premise is entirely correct as well, every possible proposition in the universe is defaulted to false and if it happens the triggers sets to true. Think of it like a computer script, if something is undefined then it automatically is false until otherwise defined. Because of the Law of Excluded Middle all propositions are either true or false (which is obvious in previous thought).

The Law of Excluded Middle (LEM): Every proposition is either true or else false.

  The third premise is equally true, as I’ve stated before if you are to take into account every single possible set of propositions possible than at least one set is going to be inevitably correct. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy, to be further explained soon.

  However this is where I break away from the argument and no longer can support it. The fourth premise is what I like to call a leap of faith, or perhaps an extreme super duper ultimate fabulously monstrous leap of blind and utterly unbelievable faith. The fourth premise says that if of all the possible outcomes in the universe that one of them is bound to happen that the future is already unavoidable. Unavoidable is defined as follows:

e is unavoidable =df no human is able to prevent e from occurring.

  This is where we break off, ironically the strongest supporter in my class was the very person who stated why the logic behind the fourth premise is intelligible (or at least poorly worded). In essence when the fatalist says that the future is unavoidable they are saying that you are destined to do what you do and are thusly not responsible for anything that you do because it was already pre-ordained. However as our professor said in one of his examples “The past is a closed path and the future is an open one.” The past has already happened and thusly the triggers for all the propositions that were involved with the events of the past have been flipped to true. However just because the past has happened in one way does not mean the future is set to happen in a single way.

  The reason that Fatalism is weak is because no matter what happens, regardless of what choice you take, you will eventually fill up at least one of the infinitely many possible outcomes. This is not because the future is bound to happen, it’s because a future is bound to happen. When we reach the end of time (assuming there is one) the fatalist can state that “see this particular history was the history that happened” but this does nothing but support the fact that if you state the obvious (IE. Something is going to happen) then you are bound to be correct.

  Now take into thought the idea of the time traveler. Say you know that Kennedy gets shot when you are 13, so you go back in time and tell Kennedy the day before he is shot that he will be shot and he never goes on that parade. Kennedy survives and the future is changed, you have provided a being with what was originally a true proposition in the timeline the knowledge necessary to make it no longer true. Likewise this event does nothing to stop fatalism, because Fatalism just states that something is going to happen.

  Fatalism would state that freedom does not exist, yet no aspect of freedom is negated by Fatalism likewise no act of free will negates Fatalist beliefs. Whatever you choose to do of the millions of choices you have in any given time you are filling in one of the infinitely many possible outcomes, it’s a shotgun approach to belief. What the fatalist requires is the knowledge now of the exact timeline that is going to happen for the belief structure to have any merit.

  Likewise once you know which future was going to happen you can now change it and thusly your Fatalist proposition list has now become incorrect. It ties back to my first major quote here:

“Anything that explains everything explains absolutely nothing.”

– Me

  Because by its very nature Fatalism does indeed explain (likewise predict) absolutely nothing, it merely states the obvious. Likewise it takes an ambiguous statement and tries to mask it behind a fictitious concrete statement. Check the Illusionary Occam’s Razor for a recap on Ambiguity.

By | 2009-02-24T17:15:57+00:00 February 23rd, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on Fatalism – Finish him!

Drugs are not inherently bad.

  It’s a hard pill to swallow for some people. Which is not entirely difficult to understand considering the massive swaths of money spent every single year on the drug war and anti drug advertising + education. Most evidence seems to show that these tactics are not only ineffective but highly counter productive.

  Legalized Heroin has been popping up in a few countries around the world, as far as I know the results have been the same. For the exception of foreigners entering attempting to snag some drugs without fear of prosecution it has been an overall success. The amount of people on heroin drops with this program, the amount of people picking up the substance drops, and the amount of crime related to the use of the substance tanks. It’s obvious as well, there are a few things that are required for a drug to be popular or widely used. Firstly you require a condition in which consumption of the drug is more positive than other activities and secondly you require some form of mass advertising. Now some people might be curious as to what sort of advertisement drugs like Marijuana get that would be making them so popular in places like the US (which has tens of millions of people actively using the substance).

  Word of mouth is the name of the game with illegal drugs. A combination of users and anti-drug advertisers, its difficult to not think about drugs in a society that is so blatantly obsessed with them. It doesn’t help that most advertising is sensationalist and highly misinformed, which does nothing to raise confidence about the negative repercussions. The natural response for humans (and I imagine any animal if we could speak to them) when told that they are not allowed to do something without proper information on the reasoning is to try that activity. I’m not entirely sure the reasoning behind it but I’m hardly devoid of the allure.

  That said I don’t do (conventional) drugs and it has nothing to do with the morality of it, I am a strong believer that morality is a painfully ambiguous concept that is masqueraded as a reasonable way to lead ones life. If anything in this universe should be shot it would be Morality. That aside I don’t do drugs for the biological reasons, I’m already very weird as is and frankly already have a brain full of thoughts that keeps me going. I am a huge fan of working organs and want to milk every last second I can out of my life.

  I say conventional because many people use drugs, if you have downed anything with Sugar in it you are using a highly addictive substance with mind altering properties. Sugar is even related to many terrible terrible diseases, obesity and diabetes being two pretty popular outcomes. If you’ve ever ingested caffeine or taken anything for headaches and the likes. But for whatever unusual reason these things are all ok, yes I realize that Sugar is required in certain doses to survive so save those comments for someone else ;).

  There is an unusual assumption that drugs leads to crime, it’s something of a self fulfilling outcome that has to do with the nature of our reaction to drugs. In most cases the substance is legal for quite a while, it gains a sizeable following and begins to impose upon more popular drugs like alcohol and tobacco. A large lobbying project is enacted and the substances are made illegal, now you have a large group of people who went from simply enjoying themselves to being criminals. Likewise instead of getting ‘treated’ when they are caught they are put in jail or fined, they lose their jobs, and in many cases end up losing much more. Nothing that they lose is related to the drug but instead the (very hypocritical) reaction towards the use of the substance.

  Even the arguments against illegal drugs is flawed, Marijuana is consistently discussed as the ‘gateway’ drug yet every study I’ve ever read showed that most Marijuana smokers had initially tried Cigarettes and found that Marijuana had better side effects with less noticeable negative side effects (It’s difficult to vomit off a joint but very easy on your first cigarette). Likewise correlating the deaths related to the substance to its harmfulness falls through. The deaths related to illegal substances have to do with the nature of supply and demand with illegal activities, generally the demand is high because of the dark mysterious nature of the item and the supply is low because of the nature of criminal activity which generates HUGE sums of cash (which is lucrative).

  The Harrison act was supposedly going to create this fancy new US where there were no drugs and everyone cuddled bears. Well what it did end up doing was (much like prohibition) was create a multitude of crime syndicates, if you are looking for someone to thank for the massive power of gangs and nations like Colombia, look no further than the US’s prohibition on drugs. The amount of money you can make from dealing drugs is preposterous. Legal drug companies know this too and that is why pharmaceuticals are so powerful in the government.

  However when you look at Tobacco and Alcohol it is literally a case of the substance being harmful. Which is where the irony comes in, two of the most efficient ways of killing people (or at least causing pretty impressive amounts of biological damage) are the two that are legal. It goes back to the experimental neurosis and the unusual effect this sort of hypocrisy has on the trust and reaction of the people to their government.

  There are plenty of dangerous things that people can do that are legal, like sky diving, spanking gorillas, juggling knives, drinking the water in Mexico, saying anything negative about any non-white person, or shooting of fireworks while hammered during the appropriate holiday. While some of these are in jest I find it difficult to argue that most are less dangerous than most (if not all) illegal substances. If you don’t believe me make a video of yourself slapping a gorilla on the ass and live to tell about it.

  Most drugs are not shiny nor are they rare, which means that they do not have an intrinsic value. The entirety of their worth comes from the militant nature of our laws against them, likewise the higher their worth the more dangerous activities involving them become. Drugs themselves are not inherently bad, we have to work very hard to make them dangerous and to make them popular.

  In a closing thought I find it funny that one of the world’s largest faiths is built off of a story of a man ‘hearing things’ after being near a ‘burning bush’ yet we try to take a morale high ground on drugs. What do you think that bush was?

By | 2009-02-22T18:01:07+00:00 February 22nd, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on Drugs are not inherently bad.

Freedometer 2.0 – Still not quite there

  I’ve been thinking about the glaring flaws in my original Freedometer and the fact that it didn’t express my point correctly. So without further adieu this is the new and approved Freedometer:


The Freedometer 2.0

  The way this works is that you have a binary situation, there are only two likely outcomes to be had. Now I understand that this is an unlikely situation and possibly impossible, but this diagram was made to explain the simplest situation so as to help people understand more complex ones. You would have a bar on top of this circle the length of its diameter and pinned at the center so that it can spin. Ideally you would turn it clockwise, the left hand side of the bar would show you the % likelihood that option 1 (or A what have you) would be chosen and the right hand side of the bar would instantly show you the % likelihood that option 2 (or B) would be chosen.

  Now this is grossly oversimplified and I believe it is easily argued that my ‘red zone’ is too large. However again this is for the concept and not necessarily precise. Lets look at example one for a little bit of guidance.


Example 1 (Option 1 20%/Option 2 80%)

  What this example shows is the bar moved so that you have an 80% likelihood of choosing outcome 2 and you have only a 20% likelihood of choosing outcome one. If I was good with gradients I’d have a third zone “yellow” that would probably span 89% to 71% and 11% to 29% respectively as a “zone for debate” or “possibly free choice”. The general idea being that once you get into the extremes of one choice being chosen 9 out of 10 times you have entered a region of positive gain to negative punishment that is far too large to be considered an earnest free choice. Likewise when you get really far, say 99/1 chance that you’ve entered an ‘ultimatum’ or some sort of extreme non-free choice.

  So by the loose definition of the 2.0 Freedometer (who’ll see a facelift once I learn gradients) the above example is a situation where you do not have a free choice, you are given a choice where option 1 is exceptionally poor and option 2 is exceptionally great. Say someone offering you cold unflavored coffee (option 1) or offering you cold filtered water (option 2) after you’ve just competed in a triathlon.


Example 2 (Option 1 27%/Option 2 73%)

  This would be a situation of free choice, it’s in that yellow zone that may be added at a later date but for now its a situation of free choice. While one option is nicer than the other neither puts the organism in a place of great disadvantage. I suppose this would be something akin to going to see a bad movie or a good movie, neither will destroy your day and while you do have a higher likelihood of choosing the good movie you may end up last minute entering to see the bad one to give it the benefit of the doubt.

  It would be unfortunate but not exactly life ending. Now this last example is what I envision when I look at situations where someone says something like “You can either give me your wallet or die.”


Example 3 (Option 1 100%/Option 2 0%)

  These are highly popular abuses of the free choice concept. You are given the choice of say “believing in a deity” or being punished to an eternity of unpleasantness. Neither option accurately relates to the consequences of its choice and likewise the grandiose nature of the aversive to the mediocre nature of the appetitive is (likely) infinitely large. Because of this you have a choice between a seemingly infinitely large positive outcome on one end and a seemingly infinitely large negative outcome on the other end. This is not a free choice at the utmost, it even looks weird on the Freedometer 2.0, it makes him very unhappy.

  So of course this is a work in progress. I think ideally I’m just trying to create a visual diagram (with the wonders of geometry) that can help provide visual aid for a very serious problem. Far too much of the world’s population abuses the concept of freedom or free choice. It seems to me anytime the options are vastly different in a negative correlation that they are directives masked behind choice.

By | 2009-02-21T20:56:23+00:00 February 21st, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on Freedometer 2.0 – Still not quite there

The Life of Man

  I know technically I should say “human” or “person” or something but frankly women on average already live 7 years longer than men, I’d say since I’m likely to die almost a decade sooner than a lady that I should be at least given the joy of popping my gender into the title. There will be at a time someday when its ironic.

  There are so many reasons that the human life is just sadistically short. The wonderfully bright radioactive mass bursting brightly at the center of our universe lives for an estimated 10 billion years. That means that at best I’ll survive likely 1 hundred millionth the span of our sun. In the history of our universe a human life vanishes so quickly that its not even a blink, it’s hardly a trillionth of a blink if that. We take up something like two square feet of area when the very planet we are standing on takes 5 in a half quadrillion square feet…we are the tiniest of tiny ants upon a small rock in the middle of a vast expanse.

  Some people talk about heaven, an afterlife, but I’m not satisfied. I don’t want an afterlife, I want this one. If I were to paint my own heaven ala, what dreams may come (good movie), it would merely be our current reality but with me immortal (and likely invulnerable). But all in all it would be the same thing. I love reading about this world, watching it, seeing it evolve, I want to watch the continents change and move. For new land masses to split and for others to crash into one another.

  To see the first massive space ship begin its trek across space warping space and surviving the impact of hyper fast matter with nothing more than the shields wrapped around it like saran wrap. I would love to colonize my own planet, terraform it, and begin my own civilization. I want to watch a star die at the absolute smallest safe distance I can possibly imagine.

  I want to see a time when we come to a point where we no longer are discovering the universe but making our own. I think in the end I just want to see a point in which the life of man doesn’t vanish into nothingness, to see a point where the irresponsible nature of a half dozen fanatics cannot nearly obliterate everything.

  It is truly a frail and meek existence we life in, I hope to see a point in which life ends on our terms.

By | 2009-02-20T22:59:40+00:00 February 20th, 2009|Journal|Comments Off on The Life of Man