There’s no rule that says

There’s a thing my brain has been doing lately that I think is interesting/significant/weird.  I don’t know why it’s doing it, I have no idea why my brain does most of the things it does, but it is.

The thing, I think, is that it’s discarding the things it learned to see as rules.

The latest example happened today- when I heard about Sesame Credit.  Some part of my brain was sputtering “But- but that’s ridiculous!  You can’t- you can’t take this silly gimmicky feature implemented by some social-network companies and integrate it with the government and make it mandatory, that’s just…  It doesn’t work that way!”

But, of course, there’s no rule that says that.  There’s no rule that says anything!  Governments aren’t special fundamental units of anything, they’re just…  Blobs of people, who are in charge of lots of things and there’s a big history of how it got that way and a system to put them there and a story behind how each person ended up there and it’s complicated.  But there’s no rule that says that can’t happen.

Do you get the concept I’m trying to gesture at?  Maybe not.  Um.  It might not make sense to other people, in the same way.  It might be something too specific to my particular brain for anyone else to understand what i’m getting at.

It’s made it harder for me to think of things as…  objects, rather than the sum of a bunch of parts that are sums of their own parts all the way down the line.  

I have a little piece of a 3d-printed pokeball, in my hand, right now, and if I found the right cracks and pulled on the right strings I could get it to come apart along the layers.  If I dropped it in acetone it would dissolve and the white dye that’s mixed into it would spread through the previously-clear solution.  I could melt it so it was just a pile of viscous white goo.  

None of these things would alter the parts it was made of very much, but any of them would make me stop thinking of it as a piece-of-a-pokeball.  They might make me stop referring to the result in my head as “it” instead of as “some”.  Some plastic.  A pile of ABS plastic, instead of an object that is made of ABS plastic.  And, of course, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene isn’t exactly a fundamental unit either.

Maybe “rules” is the wrong word to use.  “There’s no rule that says” is the sound my brain makes when it realizes this is true of a new thing, but I think it’s more about seeing things as assemblies rather than objects.  

It’s had the side effect of making everything ever look bizarre and surreal.  I see a thing and notice that there’s no rule that says it has to be that way, that’s not a fundamental thing, it’s made of stuff.  

So why is it like that?  Why is it like that instead of any other way?  How the fuck is everything made of so many things???  how does it not all fall apart??????  it’s so big and complicated?????????

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“Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence”

I don’t like that phrase.

There’s nothing wrong with the spirit behind it, really.  Claims that contradict your existing model of the world should require more evidence than your existing model has before you believe them.  But that’s not how it gets used.  It gets used to mean “your claim sounds absurd to me so I choose not to believe it”.

Now, in day-to-day life, your absurdity heuristic works just fine, which is probably why you have one.  But when you’re trying to have an argument with someone, I think that’s a thing you should suspend until the argument is over, because it’s annoying and almost never useful.  Arguments are about comparing evidence.  “Your claim is absurd!” isn’t evidence, it’s your system-1 doing its best to react to evidence.  And I don’t think you trust your system-1 to be rational enough that you should take its word as evidence of anything.  “Einstein said so” is probably some evidence in your favor, in an argument about physics.  “My intuition said so” is not.

It gets especially bad when Person 1 yells “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence!” in an argument about whether the claim does, in fact, contradict established theory, which is what most such arguments are about anyway.  Yelling that phrase when someone claims relativity is false?  Sure.  Yelling it when they claim that many-worlds is the correct interpretation of quantum mechanics?  No.

(Disclaimer: I know very little about quantum mechanics and I certainly have no stance on what interpretation is correct, it was an example.)

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Hello world!

Well, I guess I did the thing.  Hi.  I’ll probably have some posts soon.  At least one.

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