Monday, September 8, 2008

CogSci's "Frame Problem"; Cato Releases Major Work; Revelations

"The Frame Problem."
Where is the tolerance, not to mention the "creator's" credentials?
December 18, 2007 "Over the past few months and for the foreseeable future, significant attention has and will continue to be focused on the Cult of Scientology." L. Ron Brown

Brown wrote this in reference to "The Frame Problem," (TPF) where the focus "is on the intersections of religion with politics, culture, science, ethics, and cognition." This does not explain, exactly or inexactly, its relationship to the "cult" of Scientology. But not calling it by its name of "Church" shows a distinct prejudice. How does Brown get to that "intersection" where Scientology is included in the scope of TPF?

"Major areas of interest," he writes, "include unsecularism, human rights, Intelligent Design/Creationism, evolution, religious apologetics, the secularist movement, religious cognition, secular approaches to ethics, meaning and wisdom, and Scientology."

Ok, so now a lot of things are thrown into the "frame problem" basket, including ID/Creationism; but Scientology is the only "cult," let alone religion, of which there are none others included. Why is "significant attention" under the heading of TPF focused on Scientology?

Brown never does say, not on this webpage, but he does say, "The issue of framing is highly relevant to considerations of politics, prudence, ethics, rationality, and wisdom."

Am I detecting a super-bias against this "cult"? Does he consider Scientologists to be impolitic, imprudent, unethical, irrational, and unwise? Under the linked sub-title of "Who is the Frame Problem?", where I was expecting to see a perspicacious detailing of perhaps the leadership of the Church of Scientology, we see this:

"L. Ron Brown (Creator). I am a 25 year old graduate of the University of Toronto (Hon B.Sc in Psychology Research and Cognitive Science) living in the Toronto area." After which he goes on to illuminate his interests, and to tell us that the "L" in his name "stands for luscious." In other words, Luscious Ron Brown is the Frame Problem.

"Lucious" Brown gives us a very broad overview of "what" TPF is, in language that could be read one way or the other, such as, "'the frame problem' refers to a problem that cognitive agents like us [I guess he means we humans, because he doesn't ever say what he means] solve all the time. In a given instance we face an infinite supply of potentially relevant and irrelevant information. If one were to consider every possible contingency behind an act, they would never do a thing."

True enough. I cannot disagree. What does this have to do with this creation of his? "TFP gets its name from Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence." Hmmmm, I see no resemblance at all in those, so "Lucious" must mean that within the science of CSAI there is something called TPF.

The U. of Toronto "CogSci" website does not list him as "Core Faculty" or as "Cognitive Scientist." There is only one "staffer." And there are only five alumni. He isn't one of them. But getting an Honorary isn't easy.

"The number of credits required [ ] are as follows for CogSci-AI Specialist: 13 full course equivalents, 2.5 of these will be the core cognitive science courses. The rest are to be taken from the cognate deparments of Cognitive Science." There are five enrollment combinations that give the student plenty of options in the areas they wish to study." This was published by the CogSci department, not by Brown.

Well, I must admit, that "honorary" with those credentials is more of a degree than I have at this moment, but what does his knowledge-base actually entail? He tells us nothing. Which of the five enrollment combinations did he finish?

So I looked up " CogSci @ U of T," , where I discovered that, "CASA, or the U of T CogSci AI Students' Association, includes all students currently in the program as well as U of T undergraduate students who are on the CASA mailing list, " and "Joining CASA is as simple as subscribing to the CASA mailing list. " [italics added]

Well, that sounds like something I'd join myself, if I was a student at the U. of Toronto. I don't blame "Luscious" for joining. I think as an obvious subscriber to their mailing list he's building himself up with generalized descriptions of his "creation" such as, "The task for a functional and adaptive cognitive system is to process relevant information exclusively, intelligently ignoring the rest. The problem of zooming in on the relevant information while leaving everything else unconsidered is the frame problem."

Coming from a young person who grew up from the very beginning of what turned into The Information Age (127,000,000 references to it on Google,) and given that we now live in a time when statistics are everything--"Don't bring me your suggestion for improving performance without some numbers or studies to back it up!"--it's not surprising that anyone would want to turn such a "problem" into an exact science, which sounds like Brown's purpose.

But what ever happened to formal syllogistic logic, or symbolic logic if Brown has the background for it? In formal logic there are a limited number of methods to put a problem together in words--256 methods, to be exact, called "moods" and "figures." Out of the 256 only 15 are "valid," unless you use one of Aristotle's old categories, and then you get 24. And out of these 15 or 24, not all valid forms are even "sound." They are valid only because they fit the form without any contradictions. I can "validly" say that my Uncle Harry who married a girl named Maureen, is a raven. But it isn't "sound," and so we know it isn't true. "Soundness" indicates truthfulness of statements.

Everyone uses formal logic every day of his life. They may not know it. But it is the deductive method by which the mind works. The mind is limited to 256 ways of thinking about things deductively. "The problem of zooming in on the relevant information while leaving everything else unconsidered," is what we use logic for and we do it pretty accurately, especially the big winners in life. But studying formal logic formally would serve a person well. I mean, it served Aristotle well, because he discovered and gave us the 256 forms and they have not changed in all the millenia, in any language.

I hope Brown's efforts are not ivory tower. Perhaps they will be like the quality control principles of W. Edwards Deming, and change the face of man's methods of "zooming in on the relevant information while leaving everything else unconsidered."

But what is up with the bias--sound or not, which Brown never proves--against Scientology, ID, and Creationism? Yes, I have problems with those subjects. I have my own arguments against them. But I state the argument, where appropriate. Brown never does, not on his own website.

It seems these days that no faction can leave any other faction alone without picking it out for scrutiny. If Brown is not a Scientologist--and I must assume he is not a member of that "cult,"--then where is his problem? Where is his intolerance coming from? I wish he would state it for the record.

[Disclaimer: I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of the Church of Scientology. But what ever happened to religious tolerance?]

Major Reference Work on Libertarianism Released
"The Cato Institute is pleased to announce the release of The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, a compilation of and introduction to libertarian scholarship. This comprehensive book, years in the making, includes more than 300 succinct, original articles on libertarian ideas, institutions, and thinkers. The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism belongs on every libertarian's bookshelf." Cato Institute news release

On Revelations: Thomas Paine [Republished from 8.18.08]
I PUT the following work under your protection. It contains my opinions upon Religion. You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.

But, lest it should be supposed that I believe in many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.

Every national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals. The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their JesusChrist, their apostles and saints; and the Turks their Mahomet, as if the way to God was not open to every man alike.

Each of those churches show certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. The Jews say, that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say, that their word of God came by divine inspiration: and the Turks say, that their word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from Heaven. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.

No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication, if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, andconsequently they are not obliged to believe it.

It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication- after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me tobelieve it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.

When I am told that the Koran was written in Heaven and brought to Mahomet by an angel, the account comes too near the same kind of hearsay evidence and second-hand authority as the former. I did not see the angel myself, and, therefore, I have a right not to believe it.
When also I am told that a woman called the Virgin Mary, said, or gave out, that she was with child without any cohabitation with a man, and that her betrothed husband, Joseph, said that an angel told him so, I have a right to believe them or not; such a circumstance required a much stronger evidence than their bare word for it; but we have not even this- for neither Joseph nor Mary wrote any such matter themselves; it is only reported by others that they said so- it is hearsay upon hearsay, and I do not choose to rest my belief upon such evidence.
Thomas Paine; "The Age of Reason"; 1794

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