Sunday, August 06, 2017
Bad Boole

Symbolic logic or Boolean logic works beautifully in a computer or a mechanical decision-making system. The most basic operations (AND OR NOT) can be implemented directly and simply by circuits or programs or mechanisms, and the 'arithmetical' laws of symbolic logic guide you toward combining the basics into complex mechanisms.

Symbolic logic DOESN'T work well for describing the logic of ordinary language and thought, or the logic of culture and organization.

This failure means that it's dangerous to trust computerized or mechanistic evaluations of true news vs fake "news".

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Simplest example:

The OR of Boole is inclusive, the OR of normal language is exclusive. In Boole, "You can have apples OR oranges" means you can have apples, you can have oranges, you can have both at once. In ordinary language "You can have apples OR oranges" means you can have exactly one of those choices. Boole wants to describe this with exclusive-or XOR, which is a more complex circuit or mechanism.

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If-then combinations depart even more from normal usage. Understanding the departure can help us to untangle bad uses of Boole. In a sentence like "If I have apples you can buy my apples" we're not concerned with the VALIDITY OF THE SENTENCE; we only think of the alternatives.

Abbreviating A = apples, B = buy.

If A then B in ordinary thinking:
A is true ---> B is true
A is false ---> B is false

We're basically forming a time-dependent equation with A as the driving or leading variable and B as the driven or following variable. In a computer this would be written B = A.

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The usual programming implementation of if-then is not truly Boolean; it's just a more active (verb-like) way of expressing the (noun-like) one-way equation.

Writing a typical setup in Python style......

if Apples: Buy(Apples)

This could just as well be written

Buy(Apples)

The activity or function Buy happens when I have Apples; the activity Buy fails when I don't have Apples.

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The abstract Boolean if-then works on a meta level. Boole doesn't care who's leading and who's following. Boole simply examines the FOUR possible combinations of true and false, and evaluates the VALIDITY of the if-then sentence for each combination.

If TRUE then TRUE ---> Valid
If FALSE then FALSE ---> Valid
If FALSE then TRUE ---> Valid
If TRUE then FALSE ---> Invalid

The first two lines correspond to our normal and computerized versions of if-then. Cause is true, result is true. Cause is false, result is false.

The third line is completely counterintuitive, but it follows rigorously from the arithmetical laws of Boolean logic.

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What happens when policy decisions and censorship decisions are based on a FALSE driving variable? 100% of our present driving variables fit this category. RUSSIAN_MEDDLING or EVOLUTION or GLOBAL_WARMING or QUANTUM or SHARE_VALUE or MMT or GENDER_FLUID or EQUALITY or GAME_THEORY or DEMOCRACY.... all are provably false driving variables universally expressed as TRUE assertions. There is never an IF-THEN. The sentences and policies always FLATLY ASSUME without any hedging or qualifications that the driving variable is universally and perfectly true, in the same category as 1 = 1.

From these false driving variables we reach all sorts of driven actions, costing trillions of dollars and millions of lives.

When you trust a mechanical circuit or program to evaluate this situation, the program will evaluate the first and third lines of the truth table:

If TRUE then TRUE ---> Valid

If FALSE then TRUE ---> Valid

Doesn't matter if our assumption is TRUE or FALSE. We are TRULY acting on it, and Boole says our actions are universally valid.

Everything's OK! No problemo! Go ahead and censor, destroy, obliterate, and slaughter!

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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