Archive | April, 2013

Every Body Needs QaQa(tm)

27 Apr

Off to a conclusion: Final cut zero.

Why we need QaQa™ (Question and Question again)

How does our thinking get so far out of whack?

Without our even realizing it?

As I pointed out in the last blog, the word run has, according to Dictionary.com 179 different meanings.

People use the word “run” all the time, and each time they think they know what they are talking about. But with 179 different meanings there are bound to be times when the sender is using the word one way and the receiver is attaching another meaning to it.

When I say “belt knife” do you think of a knife you wear on a belt on your hip? Or do you think of a knife you cut belts with? If I tell you I mean the kind you cut belts with what kind of belt would you picture in your mind?

If you have ever worked in a place that uses conveyor belts to transfer anything from one location to another, say a sorting belt of the kind Lucille Ball made famous, then you may know the kind of belt knife used to cut one is impossible to wear on your hip and bears little visual relationship to a kitchen knife at all.

People use words all the time that have virtually no meaning and they never clarify or ask for clarification.

Even worse when they are phrased as questions people try to produce answers instead of asking WTBDTM?™(What The Bleep Does That Mean)

An ad blares:

WHY AREN’T YOU A SUCCESS?

What is holding you back from being what you were meant to be?

How do you feel when you see an ad like that?

What other ways are there to feel about it?

What do you think about that ad?

What response is expected from you?

Why would someone give the expected response?

What kind of a question is it?

Why does an ad phrased that way work?

Lets start with the last question.

The ad works because people have been taught all their lives that questions are meant to be answered. That there is a right answer to every question. That the right answer is in the back of the book. That the answer will be told to you and that you are to learn it.

And last but not least you are taught that it is rude and wrong to answer a question with a question. (Such as WTBDTM?)

So people try to answer the question. And if they can’t think of an answer they keep reading in order to find one.

They never stop and ask: “Is the question true?”

Why?

Because the chances are no one has ever told you this non-logical truth: There is NO DIFFERENCE between a question and an answer except the form of its expression.

Every question is a statement and every statement is a question. I call this the QaQa Conversion Rule™.

When someone asks you,

“Why aren’t you a success?”

They are making the statement,

“You are not a success”.

A presupposition is something the speaker assumes before they make a statement. Usually when you convert a question using the QaQa Conversion Rule™ the presupposition stands out in bold relief.

Such as this example.

Once you realize this: answering a question with a question makes a LOT of sense. Think about it, if someone were to walk up to you and tell you, “You are not a success!” would you have the same reaction as you did to the question, “Why aren’t you a success?”

Probably not.

You might have my reaction. I would laugh and tell them, “Because I am a professional failure. Get paid good for it too. Two hundred dollars an hour. Pay me two hundred dollars and I’ll act so stupid even you will look smart.”

Whatever your reaction you probably would not start looking around trying to figure out why you were not a success let alone buy this guy’s secrets for turning you into one. Because you would know he had just insulted you. He has made totally unwarranted assumptions about you and your life — and did it with words that have absolutely no meaning.

To begin with he knows nothing about you as an individual. Therefore the word “you” to him means nothing. He is addressing everyone the same, for all he knows he is being read by Donald Trump — He is simply hoping he will find enough people who will respond to his ad to make him lots of money — And he probably will.

The word “success” as it is used here is so far off the PoPo Map™(Principle of Progressive obscurity) it needs some serious QaQa™ to bring it back.

WTHDTM™ seriously needs to be asked, if you are going to bother reading past the first insult. What kind of success? Success at what? When? Where? Why? How? Who?

Here we have hit the Wittgenstein Wall™.

Language has limits. That limit is clarity. Beyond that limit is nonsense. You can not speak of things beyond that limit in a reasonable way. You may speak humor or fantasy, but not reason.

A person cannot be a success.

A person cannot be a failure.

Nor can a person succeed.

Nor can a person fail.

Success and failure, succeed and fail, are all verbs that require specific objects to make sense. Babe Ruth failed to hit more balls than he succeeded in hitting yet he was a success at baseball.

Lets use the QaQa Conversion rule the other way around.

Every question is a statement.

Every statement is a question.

When someone tells you “You are a loser!”

You are perfectly right to answer, “No.”

You are perfectly right to ask, “What did I lose?”

“What did I lose at?”

“Was it worth keeping?”

Or apply the Wittgenstein Rule™ “If it makes no sense don’t speak at all.”

If you use QaQa™ every time PoPo™ gets too close to the limits of sense and apply the QaQa Conversion Rule™ liberally you will find the nonsense in your life diminishes by leaps and bounds.

There is an added benefit.

You begin to see just how ridiculous things are that get people riled up and serious about.

An ad that proclaims, “Why aren’t you a success?” doesn’t make you want to read on, it makes you want to laugh at the stupidity of the statement.

 

© 2013 All rights reserved.

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The QaQa(tm) defense

20 Apr

Off to a conclusion: the final cut.

PoPo™ and QaQa™ (said Caca)

Last blog I harped, and harped (I do that when I get on a kick) on Wittenstein’s statement “What can be said, can be said with clarity: What can’t be said, must remain unsaid … The language defines the limit, beyond that limit is nonsense.”

He puts this in traditional Aristotelean logic form. Either something makes sense or it doesn’t. The middle is properly excluded.

Then he contradicts the Aristotelean form with a Map Thinkers type of statement: “The language defines the limit (The Map) beyond that limit is nonsense (at least for the subject at hand)”

In the last blog I attempted to show that anything and everything that can be discussed follows the Law of PoPo™. That is we start out with something concrete, such as a penny or a kitten, that can be discussed with clarity and then progress in gradual stages to an obscurity so dense that the limit of sense has been reached and to continue is to produce nonsense.

Many people spend so much of their lives talking blatant nonsense they don’t even realize they are doing so.

Worse is that most of them believe they are being logical.

There is a simple defense against PoPo™.

The Defense is QaQa™.

PLEASE remember that QaQa™ was invented by Socrates so always be sure there is no hemlock in the room and that the person you are talking to is not of an extremely violent nature.

If they are your boss the reaction to QaQa™ can be firing, or loss of all respect for you and loss of any chance at future promotions.

Reactions to QaQa™ by the unreasonable can be extreme.

QaQa™ is very powerful so use it wisely.

The interesting thing is that two professors of Logic are quite capable of distinguishing between when they are in an informal conversation and a formal discussion.

When they enter into a formal discussion the first thing they do is be certain everyone present understands the terms being used and everyone involved in the discussion agrees to the specific definitions.

That is the FIRST thing they do.

This limits the discussion to concrete things that make sense to all parties.

In an informal conversation people may move easily from one subject to another without even noticing they have done so. They may use words and definitions loosely or even bring up something totally out of context.

People who are NOT logical, but think they are have difficulty distinguishing between an informal conversation and a formal discussion.

For example you and someone, or someones, else are talking about the weather. It is nice today. The weatherman predicts a storm coming in. Someone mentions their aunt is flying out of state tomorrow. Perhaps one of the someones mentions Buddy Holly.

At this point Mr. (Or Mz.) Logic Superior points out that discussions of planes and Buddy Holly have nothing to do with the subject.

At this point I initiate the process of QaQa™.

Let me explain how the process of QaQa™ defeats the process of PoPo™.

When something approaches the limits of sense through the Principle of Progressive obscurity (PoPo™) the antidote is to bring it back to a concrete subject through the process of Question and Question again™ (QaQa™).

Thus at this point I Question and Question again until I have either brought the subject to something that is understandable and agreed upon by all or  I drive Mr. (Of Mz.) Logic Superior into a Frenzy. The less logical the Pretender to the Throne of Logic is the quicker and the more violently they react.

Just warning you.

I am not going to be responsible for your medical bills because you asked WTBDTM? (What the Bleep does that mean?)

In the case of Mr / Mz Logic Superior I start by asking:

“I’m sorry. I must have lost track. What was the conversation about?”

If I’m told that:

“Ooops. I don’t remember. Did I agree to talk about that?”

And:

“So exactly what aspects of the weather is it we agreed to discuss?”

At this point I am often told I am a retarded idiot at which I normally reply that I am professionally retarded and in fact I receive second language pay for it because I speak it so well.

People who truly are logical react much better to being questioned about definitions. They understand the importance of all people concerned knowing exactly what is being discussed.

Let us spend a minute understanding exactly how things get so out of whack when two people are speaking the same language.

Why DON’T they know what each other is talking about?

Well, let look at some reasons.

According to Dictionary.com the word run has 179 meanings.

If we are going to have a formal discussion on the subject of run or running we had better eliminate at least a couple of those meanings. If we don’t we are going to end up in deep PoPo™ and we will need a lot of QaQa™ to get out of it.

The question “What do you mean by run?” becomes an absolute necessity.

QaQa™ is the easiest tool of reason to learn.

It is the most effective tool  of reason there is.

Children come by it naturally.

The problem is the last thing a teacher needs is 47 kids all asking questions the teacher has no answers too. Besides the teacher’s job is to get the kids to stop asking questions and start producing the answers that are expected from them.

If you want your children to succeed in school start at a young age teaching them that questions are sinful and will get them sent straight to hell. Questions are the tools of Satan to draw the faithful from the true path of righteousness. (I was told this once by a Preacher so I know it must be true.) In the eyes of the world he who has the most answers wins the brain game and he who asks the most questions is a fool.

I know my place in the world.

Do you know yours?

Color me Fool.

Pardon me while I go play in the QaQa™.

© 2013 All rights reserved.

WTBDTM?

6 Apr

On the road to obscurity.

Off to a Conclusion: How you get there. (Part Three)

I ended the last blog with a famous quote from Wittgenstein. Basically what you can speak about clearly can be spoken about. What cannot be spoken about clearly one should remain silent about.

S1000001Lets take a penny. Look at the penny. You can say a lot of things about that penny. You can taste it, touch it, throw it, smell it, hide it, spend it, give it away. You can run tests on it to determine its exact properties.

You know what you are talking about when you talk about that penny.

You can also talk about pennies.

Piles of pennies. Jars of pennies. Truck loads of pennies. All the pennies in the world. All the pennies that have ever been minted in history.

Or you can talk about only the double die pennies that were minted in 1955.

The thing that must be remembered is the more pennies you talk about the less you know what you are talking about.

You can say pennies.

You can say a lot about pennies.

But you have to remember that what you say, no matter how accurate in the aggregate may not be true of any particular penny or any particular group of pennies.

Conversely whatever you say about any one penny may or may not be true when talking about a lot of pennies.

The more pennies you have experience with the more you can say about pennies in general and the greater the chance what you say about them will apply to other groups of pennies.

Pennies have not always been made of copper. Some have even accidentally been made of silver. U. S. Dimes have always been the same size but some pennies have been coined that are the size of dimes, not pennies. Nor have they always had the same designs on them.

You can discuss pennies, and it may be useful to do so, but you have to remember the more pennies you speak about the less you know what you are talking about when it comes to any particular penny.

You can talk about money.

How much money you have and how you can or cannot access it.

But you are talking in the abstract and while you can say many useful things about money you must realize that the more abstract your discussion the less you know what you are talking about.

image-2Cats.

See the cat over there? You can name it. Touch it. Feed it. Lick its fur if you want. You can say a lot of meaningful things about that cat.

This cat is only a tiny kitten. This cat was abandoned by its mother. This cat  was bitten by a dog. This cat was found hiding in a pallet by two loving people who took it home and nursed it. (They are cousins.)

You can say a lot about cats in general too.

Cats hate water.

What does that mean? It means that every cat I’ve ever met hates water (Not true by the way. I just lied to you. I am a liar. But that is another story. ) It means that statistically 99.99 per cent of the worlds cat population has been shown to disdain water. (Wonder if that percentage is accurate?)

But it should not surprise you there is a breed of cat out there called a fishing cat because it normally hunts in the water for fish, frogs, etc.

Look on YouTube for anomalous cat behavior.

Does this mean you can no longer say that cats dislike water?

NO.

If you were to qualify everything you said with everything you knew to be true and everything you knew to be not true everything you said would sound like a boilerplate legal document and would have even less meaning.

Instead of saying, “Cats don’t like water,” you would be saying:

“Most cats and most breeds of cats, but I am not certain what percentage, or if it has ever been scientifically determined, usually tend to dislike water but as I do not wish to sound as though I am stereotyping any particular cat or breed of cat I must acknowledge that there may be cats and or breeds of cats unbeknownst to me who do in fact enjoy water.”

Yep we are going to keep a rousing conversation going that way.

Better to use a simple rule even adults can find easy to learn.

Popo™ is the Law.

It can be taught to children while they learn simple arithmetic.

First of all children should be taught (I’ve harped on this before and I WILL harp on it again) that the first number is not one. It is zero. There are good reasons for teaching this. The is no good reason for not teaching it. The importance of zero and its place in the progress of humanity cannot be over estimated. You might look here for the history as we know it. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=history-of-zero

So let us go back to grade school addition. Only we will pretend the teachers had the good sense to teach us to count correctly, from zero on instead of incorrectly from one on.

Zero. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven.

When we are talking about zero we are talking about nothing. We are talking about a potential something that could be anything. We are talking about an empty spot that has yet to be filled. Or we are talking about a spot that was once filled but is now empty. So when we are talking about zero we probably do not know what we are talking about.

But it is possible we do.

If we had two cookies and we ate them we now have zero cookies. We know we are talking about cookies. (Of some kind any way. We don’t know if they were oatmeal or raisin or something else.)

If we have a deck of cards and we are going to count them out then once again we know what we are talking about. Cards.

So sometimes we are adding two bananas to two bananas and we have four bananas and we know what we are talking about. We might even have two bunches of bananas that we are adding to two bunches of bananas and we still have a fair idea of what we are talking about. However because the four bunches of  bananas we now have might have different amounts of bananas in each bunch we lack a degree of clarity.

But what if you add a peach, a pear, a banana, a quarter of a pineapple, seven strawberries, eighteen grapes, and a cherry, what does all that add up too?

A fruit salad.

That was in an old cowboy movie I saw. Not verbatim. I can’t remember verbatim what I heard yesterday let alone what I heard sixty years ago. But the essential idea is the same. So I tried to discuss it with my teacher. Her reaction was stereotypical. She told me to concentrate on the studies I was given and to ignore Hollywood nonsense.

The lesson I learned that day was that teachers have a hard time dealing with even the most basic concepts.

You point your finger to an empty space. Nothing is in that space. Anything could be there but nothing is. That space has the potential to be anything we care to put there.

That empty space is one empty space. (We pointed to nothing)

Now we point to another empty space (Another nothing). Now we have two empty spaces (Two nothings). One empty space plus one empty space equals two empty spaces. We could also express this as one potential (anything) plus another potential (anything) equals two potential (any things).

When you add two plus two equals four what are you doing?

My grade school teacher diligently explained to me that  you are adding ones. Two ones make two therefore you have two sets of two ones each to make a total of four ones.

That sounds like it makes sense but it doesn’t.

You see the one does not stand for anything. Not yet. Until it does it has no meaning except as an abstract concept that can be manipulated. Therefore one stands for zero. You add one zero to another zero and you have two zeros.

Until you plug something of value into those zeros we are talking about nothing and we do not have the slightest idea what we are talking about.

So if you add zero to zero you arrive at zero.

If you multiply zero times zero you arrive at zero.

But. Here is the key.

If one stands for one zero, i.e., one potential something, and the other one stands for another potential something, you then add the two potential somethings, the two zeros, and you now have two potential somethings.

Thus you are adding two zeros to two zeros to produce four.

The trick is that in order to do this you have to use ones to represent the zeros. Or the potentials if that makes it easier for you.

So if you are talking about nothing, often in large numbers, when you are doing arithmetic, what on earth are you talking about when you are doing algebra? And what makes it useful?

You are discussing relationships.

Certain relationships hold true regardless of what you are talking about. Bricks or dogs, spaceships or bobby pins.

I call this the PoPo™ or the PoPo Law™ and even the Law of PoPo™.

It stands for the Principle of Progressive obscurity.

What it means is very simple. The greater the set of things we are talking about the less we know what we are talking about.

We can talk about a cat.

When we talk about cats we know less what we are talking about and the subject becomes progressively more obscure.

When we are talking about animals we can’t even be sure we are talking about land animals let alone cats. Our conversation may be useful but it has reached the limits of obscurity.

I love Dilbert. Every once in a while he brings “business speak” into the reality of every day conversation.

Business people will state such outlandish gibberish as this, told to me one time, “We are surmounting the obstacles to implementing the new corporate protocols in an expeditious and creative manner.”

Unfortunately the speaker had been thinking in this jargon for so long they actually thought they were saying something meaningful.

In one company that might mean they were putting the best people they had available to dealing with the situation. In another company it might mean they had hired outside experts to face the challenge. In practical terms it probably meant lower management were trying desperately to figure out how to successfully blame the workers and each other for the failed program.

When faced with things that have no meaning, Wittgenstein said, “Remain silent.”

I don’t tend to remain silent. Like Socrates I prefer to ask questions.

When speaking about anything we must ALWAYS be aware of the PoPo Law™ and when the conversation becomes meaningless we MUST stop and ask,  “What the Bleep does that mean?”

WTBDTM?

Laws of Aristotle and Ladders of Wittgenstein

6 Apr

For those of you who like to read good fiction try The HomeWrecker Series ™

Off to a Conclusion: How you get there. (Part Two)

Aristotle created three laws of reason.

The First law: A is A!

It is called the law of identity.

A thing is a thing is a thing, and not any other thing. A man is a man and not a monkey or a fish.

Of course Aristotle did not know there is only a one per cent difference in the genetic makeup of a man and a chimp. I’ve been told the percentage might be somewhat less in my personal case.

The Second Law: A is Not Not A.

It is called the Law of Non-Contradiction.

A thing cannot both exist and not exist at the same time in the same respect. A thing can not be both true and false at the same time.

Of course Aristotle was born 2,300 years ago. Quantum physics is a pinch over a hundred years old. Only a babe on the first rung of Schild’s ladder

At least he indicated AT THE SAME TIME and IN THE SAME RESPECT.

If you want to read a really good presentation of Aristotle’s Three Laws of Thought. James Carter Dawkins does an excellent job in his blog.

Please allow me to share with you the stupidest statement I have ever heard in my life:

Wherever you are at: That is exactly where you are.

And now please allow me to share with you the wisest statement I have ever heard in my life:

Wherever you are at: That is exactly where you are.

By definition I am a Christian. I adhere to certain teachings of Jesus.

By definition I am not a Christian. I do not accept the concept of an omnipotent God. Nor do I believe in the divinity of Jesus.

By definition I am a Hindu because I believe Jesus may be a reincarnation of Krishna, which is believed by some Hindus.

By definition I am not a Hindu because I am not convinced the Hindu pantheon exists.

By definition I am a Buddhist because I believe he is the wisest wise man I have ever read about.

By definition I am not a Buddhist because I do not base my life on his teachings.

By definition I am a Hindu because I believe Buddha may be a reincarnation of Krishna.

Somehow I am a hopper full of is and not is all at the same time. Yet I am a very simple man — and not one iota of misgivings that I might have an identity crises.

The kick here is — And this is an essential truth to Aristotle’s Logic and an essential Non-Truth to Wittenstien’s modeling.

The most ridiculous of the three laws is of course:

Either A or —A

The law of the excluded middle.

A thing is either true or not true. There is no middle ground. The color wheel does not exist for Aristotle. The colors either are red or orange or yellow or green or blue or indigo or violet or black or white or grey. The graduations of color in the color wheel are not allowed.

Nor, I suppose are Collodictyon. This single cell creature can best be described by what it is not. It is not an animal, plant, parasite, fungus or algae.

Let us contrast this with Wittgenstein.

“What can be said, can be said with clarity: What can’t be said, must remain unsaid … The language defines the limit, beyond that limit is nonsense.”

Okay, you know and I know I am going to disagree with Wittgenstein too — But he is on to something.

I’ll get into that in the next blog.

 

© 2013 All rights reserved.

 

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