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Thread: Cognitive dissonance and changing beliefs

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian63 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Fitness has no place for such a construct since it is defined as a stochastic process. I gave you a big clue when I included trees as being life. They have no nervous system, no mechanism for agency, yet they follow the same dictates for fitness as humans. I can reach out and find rationales to interpret treeness with agency without mind but that would be silly and useless when it's perfectly obvious that what we are talking about is not the result of agency.
    Trees do not possess agency, agreed. Are you saying that because trees exist still despite not having agency, that agency is irrelevant to how fit a certain arrangement of genes/environment is?
    What I am saying is that agency is not among first principles for life. What you are saying is an obvious misrepresentation of that fact as a defence of your position about whether agency is a first principle for life.

    For some life it may be an important factor but that doesn't seem to be what you are saying. It simply isn't in the nature of living things to possess agency. For that to be so would negate the idea that randomness is essential to fitness.

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    Veteran Member Brian63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    What I am saying is that agency is not among first principles for life. What you are saying is an obvious misrepresentation of that fact as a defence of your position about whether agency is a first principle for life.
    This phrase "first principle for life" is one that I have never heard or seen before, and so would not want to state an opinion on it before having a better understanding of what it even means. Can you define it? I have a suspicion on what you mean by it, but would rather hear it from you directly than trying to speculate.

    For some life it may be an important factor but that doesn't seem to be what you are saying. It simply isn't in the nature of living things to possess agency.
    The second statement, with the "in the nature of" phrase, is a bit mysterious and hard to say anything about. I am unable to tell if you mean the phrase of "in the nature of" to be synonymous with "essential for" or if you mean them differently.

    To be precise---For some living organisms it is a requirement to possess agency, for others it is not. For some it is essential for their survival, for others it is not. For a giraffe it is a requirement for their ability to survive, for an apple it is not.

    For that to be so would negate the idea that randomness is essential to fitness.
    Randomness is not essential to fitness. It can sometimes help genes and sometimes hurt them. It is the effect that genes have on the environment (and vice versa) that determine what is essential to fitness. If that effect was constant, or it was fluid but changing in certain *designed* ways that can benefit the genes and their fitness. Imagine a life designer who had a particular affinity for a particular gene and always made it so it survived, flourished, and reproduced. It did so without being random. So no, randomness is not essential for fitness. Randomness just appears to be what we have, but it is not necessary to be fit. Being able to change is essential to be fit, but those changes would not have to be random changes, they could be goal-directed changes (if a designer existed, for example).

  3. Top | #23
    Veteran Member Brian63's Avatar
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    Coming back here now that I have had a bit more time (busy week here). I think our different opinions are best summarized in your statement here (with emphasis added)

    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    However, most of the time, our sample of experience is relatively random, so they are representative.
    It does not seem that our sample of experience is random. Our biases instead feed what samples of reality we allow and disallow. That is evident more extremely with the situations of our political and religious beliefs, for example.

    Even interacting in our everyday lives though, our sample of experience is heavily biased. We base our opinions and assign credibility (or lack thereof) to people around us based on how much they already align with our pre-existing perceptions.

    When dealing with inanimate objects, like trying to find our car after parking it somewhere distantly, I would agree that with you that we rely heavily on sensory data. The immediate sensory data tells us nothing about whether or not the car still exists, but our memories of past sensory data gives us a clue. It goes back to the transaction costs of changing our minds though. In that parked car case, it is of great benefit and little cost to change our minds or to not rely on immediate sensory data. In many other areas of life the cost/benefit ratio tilts the other way, and it is advantageous to maintain relationships with people or even objects even if we suspected we would be better off separating, simply because doing so carries a heavy burden (divorcing a spouse, quitting a job, suing a neighbor, doubting a religious belief). As mentioned before, it seems to come down to the numbers and I do not know how to quantify it. It seems that more of the mundane and non-threatening beliefs that we hold rely on using sensory data, but the more threatening and relevant beliefs rely more on treating data as irrelevant, and relying instead on our biases.

    Dunno. Just guessin'. Thanks for your thoughts in this thread.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Life implies history. History with determined direction means just that. Unless something is random one goes down whatever rabbit hole one's tendencies promote across generations. With a random factor one comes back to the roll of dice at every change in conditions. Some will be successful others will fail and the direction one goes cannot be determined beforehand. First principle.

    That life does follow paths not including agency tells us that life need not have agency. Just because molecules can self organize or appear to do so does not mean that they have to do so in a particular way or even do so. Not every transaction is determined nor optimal. Roll of dice remains. It's not fate that some histories provide pathways that take advantage of what happens. For each one of those there is one about to become extinct at the next decision point. Ultimately, life fails whatever path it has followed.

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    Veteran Member Brian63's Avatar
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    Sorry, but I am really having trouble understanding what you mean. I need to focus and follow up on a few key points here.

    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    With a random factor one comes back to the roll of dice at every change in conditions.
    Is there, or is there not, a random factor? If so, where/what is it?

    I have a position on the issue myself already, but am asking you so to try and understand your position. It seems you speak a lot in hypotheticals, asserting what might be the case, and other times you seem to assert what actually is the case, and other times I cannot tell if you are referring to hypotheticals or actualities.

    To be more explicit and clear here, please answer---In actuality, is there or is there not a random factor? If so, where/what is it?

    Some will be successful others will fail and the direction one goes cannot be determined beforehand. First principle.
    When you say "cannot be determined" are you talking about the limitations of humans in being able to know what the outcome will be? Or are you claiming that there is no way for any being at all to know what the outcome will be, because there is randomness? If there is a being who is omniscient, that would be incompatible with the notion that no being could know the outcomes of all life. The fact that we humans do not know the outcomes of all life is not a testament that no being can, it is just a testament that we in particular cannot because we have limits to our knowledge.

    That life does follow paths not including agency tells us that life need not have agency.
    That is a misleading statement. Some forms of life do require agency to survive more successfully, other forms of life do not require it. Some forms of life require wings to survive more successfully, others do not. Some forms of life require various resistances to colder temperatures in order to survive more successfully, some others do not. Some require the ability to jump great distances or run really fast, others do not.

    The fact that some forms of life do not have agency and still survive does not mean that all forms of life do not need agency to survive. It depends on the unique circumstances, how useful or burdensome having agency is for a life form.

  6. Top | #26
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian63 View Post
    The fact that some forms of life do not have agency and still survive does not mean that all forms of life do not need agency to survive. It depends on the unique circumstances, how useful or burdensome having agency is for a life form.
    Seems sufficient to answer this jewel. Since some life does not demand agency it is not a basic tenet that life demands agency. As for random factors one, radioactive decay, certainly is not predictable beyond a rather gross outcome probability, not time or other event definable, which makes it meaningless for predicting individuals at some point in evolution. Ergo it is not possible to predict evolution results. Both of these answers take evolutionary prediction from a determinant process to a stochastic one where unlimited possibilities always result.

    It's been my experience that quantum mechanics removes temporal certainty from manipulations leaving results time uncertain reducing predictability to instance end result, not a result that can be determined.

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