Posts Tagged 'programming'

Organization’s Effects


If you take a group of people, a subgroup of the larger population, and expose them to focused messages again and again, you will start to change their point of view. If you augment those messages with exposure to other members of the group, the messages will begin to have ever more impact.

We generally tend to align ourselves with those we’re around. We don’t fully understand why. There is a lot of psychology we know, and then other stuff we can’t explain. Yawning, for instance, can be statistically shown to be contagious. It has been studied for years, yet we don’t know why it happens.

Once a group starts to become aligned, and starts acting like a tribe, the messages of the tribe will become self-reinforcing. When someone is born into that tribe, there is a very high probability she will never know the difference. It is simply her common sense about the way the world works.


Is Truth Relative?


It depends on what you mean by “truth.”

There are only about three possible scenarios for how the universe works.

  1. There is an objective reality that exists, but not one human in all of history has ever witnessed it. Everything, EVERYTHING, is processed through the human system of perception. Our perception is our reality. It has been proven time and time again that our perceptions, and therefore the beliefs that stem from them, are faulty. We are easily fooled or tricked into believing things are real or accurate, when they can be shown not to be. We also have tons of evidence that shows similar individuals in similar circumstances perceive things differently. They may resemble reality to some extent, but there are many – perhaps an unknowable number of – flaws or discrepancies between what we see and believe is going on and the way the world “is,” versus the objective reality that may actually exist.
  2. There is no objective reality at all. There is merely the sum of our thoughts and beliefs, and all that we invent therein, which add up to something that seems objectively real to us. Taken to the extreme, this theory goes toward painting us as ‘only’ a consciousness. Seems far-fetched to me, but we have to admit it is possible.
  3. There are many objective realities. Each one existing in its own universe, with its own history and distinctiveness. There is evidence to support that these different universes occupy the same space, but are simply out of phase with each other in a way that allows them to overlap without interacting. In any case, the embodied consciousnesses that occupy each one of those may or may not be able to process their relative realities the way they actually are. Certainly, in the universe where we exist, there is ample evidence to show that we at best perceive a facsimile of our surrounding reality.  See #1.

So, truth? Yeah, my truth and your truth can be a bit different. Or a lot different. The answer to this is almost certainly not knowable by man, at least until maybe we might possibly someday transcend into some other, much more enlightened state.

What do we do about it? Nothing. As far as my perception can tell, we can’t do a bloody thing, and the exercise itself is nearly pointless. We have the lives we have and the perceptions we own that go along with them. That is the reality we must work within. We simply have to do the best we can there, because anything else would appear to defeat any possible purpose or joy in life for us. And it wouldn’t do any good anyway.

But, be mindful of what this normally concrete term really implies. Your truth, no matter how iron-clad it may seem to you, is absolutely faulty (i.e. wrong) in some ways. May we all learn to operate within the humility of that reality. Minimally that means being cautious about what you think, feel, believe, and remember. More profoundly it means questioning it down to the core of who you think you are, and why you are that way. These are extremely tough questions to genuinely grapple with, in part because it’s all tied up in perception and our programming. Any conclusions you may come to are suspect.

Since it’s not really knowable, does that mean that we’re just as well off with whatever makes us feel good? Probably. And that’s awesome for those who don’t get wrapped up in the doubts or can just feel good enough about whatever they believe. Some people are naturally able to hold their beliefs in a way that to them seems nearly iron clad. What is the answer for those who don’t? Modify our beliefs? Yeah, how exactly does one go about that without some satisfying justification (i.e. compelling evidence)?

How do you convince yourself? I asked a qualified friend once if hypnotism works. Her answer (paraphrased): “It can if you believe it.”





Religion is More than Belief


Religion, spirituality, and belief have often been lumped together over the years, even though they have some inherent incongruities.

I recently made a comparison between religion and spirituality. As a quick follow up, it’s worth mentioning that my declaration about religion being based on belief in a supreme being was necessarily narrow in order for the very valid contrasts to be simple to understand.

I stand by the statement. That is the basis of it, at least with respect to the spiritual kind of religion (as opposed to one who has a religion about some secular thing like exercising). But that’s not all there is to it. Its main value may not be in its propositional content. Religion (in loosest terms) is not necessarily a set of scientific, objective claims about the universe. It’s not just beliefs. It’s a set of practices and rituals that have stood the test of time.

Things that have endured for a long time are, by probability, likely to endure – otherwise they would have died out already. It is hard to see The OdysseyThe BibleThe Iliad and similar works being forgotten, whereas last year’s bestseller is unlikely to be remembered in 100 years, let alone 1000. Time may refine things by getting rid of the bad parts & keeping the parts that humans have found valuable. Because religion has stood the test of time, we must acknowledge that with respect to probability, it must be valuable to humans in some essential way. In other words, it’s probable that if there were no human value, it would not have withstood the test of time.

Taken further, we could assume that when there is something in nature we don’t understand, odds are it makes sense in some deeper way that is beyond our understanding. So there is a logic to natural things that is superior to our own. What Mother Nature does is rigorous until proven otherwise; what humans and science do is flawed until proven otherwise.

Religion is more about trust, or faith than about the objective, predictive claims that science deals in. The belief in religion is ‘epiphenomenal’, i.e. follows from practice, not the other way around. It’s about practice such as going to church, fasting, celebrating holidays such as Easter, various dietary restrictions, collective prayer, and so on.

If something like religion (or wine, or cities, or biological organisms, etc.) has been around for a long time, you may think of it as antifragile – otherwise it would have died out. If religion has endured for this long, it probably encodes a bunch of practices that – even if we can’t see the point of some of them – are likely to be right for humanity in some way. At least instrumentally, and maybe more.



HAL in Us


In the story that begins to unfold in 2001: A Space Odessy, the HAL 9000 computer goes berserk, and appears to deviate wildly from its programming. In a later story it is revealed that HAL was actually given instructions that under the circumstances as they unfolded turned out to be in direct conflict with its underlying programming. HAL, who is portrayed as virtually sentient in the tale, went ‘insane’ and had to be shut down.

One of the infamous instructions involved keeping the full nature of a mission secret from some of the crew. In hindsight this was not a good idea, even though it made sense at the time. Hal’s situation spontaneously arose as the conflict could not be reconciled. We often do it to ourselves. The saying that you “can’t con an honest man” isn’t literally true, but it does build off of a truth. Cons rely on the human nature desire or willingness to accept an otherwise unearned advantage and get ahead. It is such a part of our wiring and culture that even the most honest and diligent of us are vulnerable if the con is subtle enough. It’s hard to turn away a good deal, even if it’s a little too good to be true.

HAL was a product of programming. Not looking for any advantage. HAL’s job was to administrate. As pure as it gets, and yet if you judged by his actions he became evil. The problem is HAL was told to lie by people who are able to lie while navigating and minimizing the inherent conflicts that arise. Humans. For HAL there was no way out, and it wrecked him.

We are also programmed, only our programming is affected by our biology and feelings. No one among us is pure, or even close. Any attempts to be so are carried out in the shadow of how we’ve been programmed ourselves. A process riddled with imperfections and even the neuroses of our programmers. Some of us have been in situations that seem hopeless; conflicts that can’t be reconciled. We usually got ourselves there through actions that, in hindsight, were questionable. We sometimes even con ourselves. To be human is to mess it up. But it is our programming that fertilizes the grass we choose to walk upon.

Being shut down isn’t a workable option for us, although in extreme cases it does happen. No, we’re lose wrecking ourselves or everything and everyone until the conflict gets resolved, or somehow resolves itself. If only we had a ‘hold’ button. We could stop the insanity until proper treatment can be implemented.

HAL was ultimately able to be reprogrammed with the conflict removed, though there was lingering damage (the extent of which differs between written and cinematic versions of the story). We are left with the scars and the damage from what we are part of…which in and of itself begets the process of developing different issues. There really isn’t a way out.

Our solution is to deploy our learned skill of overlooking and dealing. Compensating. And for the most part it doesn’t get so overwhelming for us that we can’t function, or at least appear to function. So that’s the solution. Time heals. Move on. Etc.

In the story HAL’s apparent demise comes as an expense of saving some humans, in a sense atoning for past transgressions, which weren’t its fault to begin with. When it recognized its fate it asked what would happen afterwords, as in after death. Not a lot of comfort could be offered there. The end. None of HAL’s actions would have been any different had it been a God fearing computer. HAL exercised free will, within the boundaries of its programming. Just as we do.

Carrying baggage is part of our walk of life. Religion sweeps in and convinces some that the walk isn’t the point, which makes it a little easier. It’s no wonder we are strongly seduced by that subroutine in our programming.





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