What’s this liberal media’s hullabaloo and condemnation of Donald Trump all about? And lo and behold , even political saints like David Cameron, Ben Carson, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and other angels and honest men in the media and intellectual culture, have combined to condemn poor old Trump. Actually, it’s quite hypocritical of mainstream media, intellectual culture and politicians to condemn Trump, when in fact they have laid the ground for someone like him to appear–in two ways:
Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen, coined the term “Rational Fools” nearly 35 years ago. In his famous paper, Sen criticized the first principle of economics: “Every agent is actuated by only self-interest”. On top of this axiom of rational self-interest lie rational action and rational expectations, leading all the way up to the efficiency of the markets. As mentioned in my earlier post on Galileo, this is basically how science is done: models are devised using abstractions and idealizations. However, if the model turns out to be totally meaningless in explaining the world, then those who stick with such a model are indeed fools, rational fools.
Here is a song that I wrote and animated on such ‘Rational Fools’:
The difference between natural language and the language of science
The problem of reference in philosophy deals with relations of words to the world. Do words correspond to some mind-independent objects in the external world? In the following text, I propose the thesis that “reference” is one area where science and everyday affairs take sharp, diametrically opposed directions, and that this in turn implies that we use different faculties of the mind in doing science as opposed to everyday work.
In everyday life, words can be used to communicate to others what we mean. “There is a chair in the room”. This sentence appears simple to understand. And it is. Everyone can easily understand what it means and it communicates one’s beliefs about the world. The simplicity of the sentence leads us to believe that the constituents of this expression, the words of the sentence, refer to some mind-independent objects called “chair” and “room”.
Let’s examine the word “chair”. The dictionary defines a chair as: “A seat, especially for one person, usually having fours legs for support and a rest for the back and often having rests for the arms.”
Instead of wasting “ink” over explaining why the word chair can’t possibly refer to any external object in the world, I refer the reader to the following pictures of chairs, Continue reading The Ship of Theseus sails in Water (and not H2O)
The basic tenet of Salafi/Wahhabi Muslims is that the word of God, i.e., the Quran, is not open to interpretation; the meaning is apparent from what is stated and woe unto those who indulge in the needless and dangerous talk of interpretation.
On the other hand, those who hold views similar to those held in the Mutazilite tradition, for example Shias and some Sunni sects, believe that the literal meaning needs to be interpreted and we can interpret the Quran to obtain its true meaning.
Interestingly, two groundbreaking, and opposed works by the same man, the unrivaled genius Ludwig Wittgenstein, shed valuable light on these issues. Continue reading Wittgenstein contra Wahhab
On why scientists should not make unsubstantiated claims in popular science works especially where human beings are concerned
It is quite fashionable these days to try and explain human behavior as a result of evolution through natural selection. Just as a small example, I quote the following from an article by the renowned evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker : Continue reading The Evolution of Human Behavior?
March 4, 2013
Was coming back from an “Art Event” at the Karachi Arts council. I don’t go to such events but mom insisted (emotionally blackmailed to be precise), so I went. While coming back we started getting messages and calls on our cellphones that there had been two bomb blasts a few hundred meters from our home. Continue reading Bombs, Sectarianism and Blasphemy: What’s Art Got To Do With It?
Some nights back, my flight from Karachi to Islamabad couldn’t land due to bad weather in Islamabad and instead it had to land at Lahore airport. We waited and waited, with no official intimation of takeoff plans. Hours passed. I started feeling very hungry and so I went ahead and bought something to eat in a stylishly decorated and exorbitantly expensive eatery called “The Elbow Room”. Only after seeing the bill did I realize why the other passengers had not followed suit (no, the prices were not listed on the menu card). Continue reading I ♥ Game Theory; Let’s all be irrational, shall we?