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The Fourth Law of Identity

29 Jun


The Great Contradiction

Agent of Change

Anchor of Continuity


A = AT <- PT


Once Time is added we have to conclude that A ≠ A.

That is Yesterday’s A is not Today’s A and Tomorrow’s A will be a different A still.

A0 is the lawn that was planted. It was not yet a lawn.

A1 is the lawn that I cut yesterday.

A2 is the lawn I have today.


Before we move on lets look at A0. 

Why start with 0 instead of using 1, the first example of A?

Because 0 has a value. The value is the unrealized potential. 

 Take one molecule of gold. It is gold. It has all the properties of gold. 

But it has no use. Indeed a hundred are of no use. How many molecules does it take to be useful? A thousand? Ten thousand? A million?

Let us say the smallest useful amount of gold that can be readily identified is one flake. That is a lot of molecules. That amount can be counted as one. The smallest useful amount of zero gold is the amount it is profitable to extract into useful amounts of one. Gold is in lots of places. There is gold in the oceans. But it would cost more to extract it than it would be worth. 

Oil is the same. In California a capped well might have a million gallons of zero oil in it. Someday the situation will probably change.

One fertile egg is one zero chicken or one-third of a zero omelette. 

One chicken is 365.25 zero eggs a year.

One grass seed is one zero grass.

You might want to consider this type of zero a “special case zero” but somewhere in the future when I get into Complexity Theory and the Magic of Emergence (Novelty be thy name-o) the idea of Zero equaling a potential of unknown outcome may seem normal, and the concept of Zero having a value may seem a lot less special. In a way it isn’t that special now. Think of adding 0.2 and 0.4. We now have 0.6. All three have value, but none of the three is 1 yet. They are still all three 0. 

In the mean time let us consider Zero to be potential rated from Zero potential to absolute potential when it becomes One.

And believe it or not, to me that makes perfect sense.



To get back to the subject:

A = A0…AFor the life of A.

Where each gradient from 0… is a discreet change that is detectable in some way over time. It may only be detectable using technology, but it still counts.


Yet we know that A is still A. 


At the same time we know that A is not A yet, it is only potential A.

We know a grass seed is both not grass and is grass at the same time.


Once we factor in Time we must recognize the Difference in A from Time Zero through Time for each section of Time measured. 


Once we factor in Time we must recognize the Continuity of A as the same A that experienced the Difference. 


Yesterday’s Child could not walk.

Today’s Child took its first step.

Tomorrow’s Child will run.


Thus A, and our knowledge of A, is in fact Anchored in Continuity. 

We know nothing about anything until we know its past state, its present state, and are able to have expectations about its future state.



A = RD/T = I <- P


Where the Difference in the Recipe of A over periods of Time becomes the Identity of A as understood by P. 


In other words A is not only not A over time, but the changes undergone by A becomes the Identity of A as Perceived and Processed by the Perceiver. 


Thus allowing Aristotle to believe that A = A in spite of so much evidence to the contrary. 


Thus Aristotle is not an idiot. 

He simply did not take Socrates advice to heart. 

The unexamined A is not worth looking at. 


It also explains why stories, anecdotes, and Maps, are so important to human thinking. Without Anchoring to something, Time, Place, Concept, there is no continuity, and therefore no real understanding. 

It explains why people with complete maps that are well anchored, which compares to Deep Structure in linguistics, are more stable mentally and emotionally than people with Fragmented, disjointed, unanchored maps. 


Noam Chomsky, and others, have tried to account for how the two sentences:

Jack kissed Jill


Jill was kissed by Jack


Can both be interpreted by the human mind as roughly equivalent. 

(They are not equivalent and do not mean the same thing, but that is a secret to be revealed later.)

For the minute we will simple accept that both sentences describe the same event. 

The question is “How does the Human Mind know this?”

The answer depends on Anchors.

If you do not know what a “kiss” is you have no anchors. 

To have a kiss explained to you is to be able to attain some understanding of kiss-ness, but it is free floating knowledge, unanchored, forgettable, and unexperienced.

To see people kissing is a visual anchor.

To completely anchor the concept of kissing a person has to kiss and be kissed. Once it is anchored a map, a model, a physical, mental, emotional, reference has been developed and is retainable and recallable.

If a person has only experienced one type of kissing, say that of parent to child, then the map / model is incomplete and the person’s kissing vocabulary is undeveloped. They may not fully understand what happened when Jack kissed, Jill was kissed. 

When the words are heard, or seen, a map is recalled, a model is compared too, and experience replayed, a video clip is viewed — Any or all of these things happen as fast as the human mind can operate. So fast the Perceiver is probably not aware of it. It does not matter how it is said, this same — NON WORD reference is made. 

It is important to realize that WORDS are not referenced.

Once we get past this Aristotelean Block™ to reason, everything makes — Not just sense — But simple, easy to understand sense.


The idea that Surface Structure Words refer to Deep Structure Words makes no sense.

Words refer to events as experienced by the Perceiver. 

A = AT/D <- P


Words describe the Qualities that make up the Identity as understood by the Perceiver. 


W -> A = Qn <- P

Words describe A which are the Qualities received, understood, perceived, and processed by the Perceiver.


When the situation is reversed:

P -> Qn (A) <- W

The Perceiver reports the (Noticed and Understood) Qualities of (A) using Words. 


In all cases the physical, perceived, experience, of P is referred too.


Deep Structure is the Experience of a thing or event by the Perceiver. 



Jack kissed Jill

Jill was kissed by Jack

Jack and Jill were kissing


Are all experienced by the Perceiver as similar (but not exact) experiences.


The fourth law of Identity can be expressed as:

A = EE/T <- P

Where A equals the (past) Experience and (future) Expectations of A over Time as Understood (Perceived and Processed) by P, the Perceiver. 


When A EE/T <- P in some significant way, then P -> A.


In English: When  A does not live up to future expectations in some significant way then the Person tends to deny that A is actually A even though A is still A in all other respects. 


Thus a stunted rose may no longer be a rose to a prize-winning gardener. A homosexual child may no longer be a son, or a pregnant child a daughter, to a zealot father. Or a thousand other rejections both petty and traumatic for any number of reasoning “From Expectations”.


I have stated before and no doubt will state again.

There is no way to separate the study of Language or the study of Philosophy from either Science or Psychology.

Experience is often not as remembered. 

Expectations are often unreasonable and demanding.

Reactions when Expectations are not met are often unreasonable. 

There is a distinct proportion here:

The more unreasonable the expectation the more unreasonable the reaction. 

Oddly this often becomes a cycle. The same unreasonable expectations happen again and again and the same unreasonable reactions happen afterward. 

I give Christmas as an example. 

Post Christmas Depression. 

You would think after one or two years of disappointment the Perceiver would change their Expectations. 

But that does not happen.


Back to A.

Our expanded formula:

A = DRip/T ->DQn/T  = I (EE) <- P

Where A is the Recipe composed of Ingredients and Proportions  that change D with Time. This Recipe produces perceivable Qualities that also change D with Time. This is the Identity which includes Past Experiences and Future Expectations that is Perceived and Processed by P. 


The Past Experiences and Future Expectations are so incorporated in the human mind that Aristotle, and future philosophers, were able to ignore them completely and insist that A = A rather than the what A really is.

A, any given A, is a process. 

The Qualities that process expresses produces an Identity. 

The Perception itself is a process. 

The Perceiver, in turn, processes the information. 


Reality itself is a Process.

Perception of Reality is a Process.


A <- P


A is not A. 

A does not exist.

A only exists when and how it is Perceived and Processed by P.



(C) 2013, All Rights Reserved



First Law of Identity

8 Jun

The Map Thinker’s ™ first law of identity.

When the Identity consists of those things that are objects in the real universe (As opposed to Concepts). When the Identity consists of those things that are concepts, such as freedom, God, government, goals. When Identity consists of things that are beliefs, such as a belief there are true psychics and those who believe all psychics are frauds. When the Identity consists of an event, such as the birth of a baby, or Christmas, or 911.

Identity is that which the Perceiver has learned to identify as distinct.

For the minute we will concentrate on those things that are “real” objects in The Universe.

Let us look at what this means.

And by the way, when you are looking at it, the math like looking junk confuses some people, makes it clearer to others. If it confuses you, just skip it. Just read the words. The math like looking stuff is only there to make me seem more important anyway.

The words alone explain it all.

A = I <- Pn.

Where A is that which is perceived.

Where I is the identity of A as Perceived and Processed by P.

Where <- is the perception as received (observation or non observation through various senses) or, you may say, is understood, by P.

Where P is the Perceiver who Perceives and Processes the Qualities of A that equal Identity.

Where n denotes the specific Perceiver.

Aristotle in his egotism, assumed every intelligent person would be a copy of — You guessed it — Him. He never took into consideration that someone else might legitimately differ with his view. He assumed anyone who differed was less intelligent — Or even less human than he was. Thus he assumed that A = A is the truth and that any intelligent human being would experience it the same. Thus you either agreed with him or joined the ranks of subhumans; barbarians, women, Blind, and Deaf.

Einstein was not an egotist, he simply did not take differences in human perception into consideration when he evolved the Theory of Relativity. To do so would have added a note of complexity that would not have helped his ideas in any way. Still he postulated an observer who saw accurately, processed the information accurately, and would report accurately. Naturally accuracy would duplicate Aristotle’s perceptions.

Something which seldom happens.

It is time we got off our high horse. Look the horse in the eye. That horse thinks. We may think things the horse does not, possibly because there is no use in the horse thinking of them. In this the horse may be superior to us. As humans we think many things there is no use in our thinking. In fact many things humans think are counter survival. Unlike the horse.

Aristotle assumed Truth exists in a permanent state.

There is no evidence that anything, let alone truth exists in other than a transitory state.

Aristotle further assumed that a human being using their mind alone could understand this absolute truth.

That assumption is unfounded and has a very low probability factor. The evidence is that it is extremely difficult for anyone to understand completely even the most obvious truths.

The tree is full of green leaves.

But do we all experience the same green from the same tree? Even those of us who are not color blind do not see the exact same green as others. I personally see one green from one eye, another green from the other eye, and a different green when I look with both eyes. I experience three shades of tree green. Should I ask, “Which is the ‘true green?’ or do I simply accept the fact that I can only experience that which I can experience?

Most of us would be horrified nowadays to be told that Deaf People and Color Blind people were less intelligent, perhaps less human than those who saw colors ‘correctly’ or heard ‘correctly’.

Yet when anyone attempts to apply Aristotelian logic to the modern world they are applying just those assumptions. They are imbedded in Aristotelian logic. They are embodied in the “Law of Thought” A = A.

The “truth” as near as it exists, is that each person who Perceives  ( P1,2,3…n) will experience any given reality in a slightly different way.

If an absolute truth did exist in any manner, shape, or form, we would not be able to experience it in any way save through our imperfect human senses.

Once we did experience this absolute, perfect truth, each person would have to process it.

An example of this might be an automobile accident. Let us assume that all observers are of equal perceptual ability. They are capable of exactly the same initial perception.

P1 might notice the action of the cars involved but not be aware of the colors of the cars.

P2 might notice the colors of the cars but be unclear on the action.

P3 might not notice the action or the colors of the cars. They might notice the color of the drivers.

Why the difference?


Each processed the exact same information differently.

So Pn for each n processes different information differently.

One person sees Caviar and salivates.

Another is revolted by eating fish bait.

So now let us take an objective look, as objectively as we can, at two disparate A’s.

A half pound of ocean water and A half pound of rock.

No two things could be more different.

Or could they?

Ocean water is called salt water because it has so much salt in it. It has so much that it is economically sound to extract the salt from it.

Rocks have enough water in them that colonizing the moon is more apt to be viable because it can be extracted from them.

Oceans have organic matter in them. Probably because fish poop in it.

Rocks have organic matter in them. Probably because the neighbor’s dog pooped on it.

Ocean water has minerals in it.

So do rocks.

It is quite possible to hold a solid rock in one hand and a glass of ocean water in the other and that both contain the exact same ingredients.

Just not in the same proportions.

It is important to grasp this.

There is no difference between the rock and the glass of ocean water except the proportions of the ingredients.

An = Rn <- Pn

Where A is that proportion of difference which allows the Perceiver to perceive it as having a separate identity. R is the recipe.  If you find it difficult to think of A, say a rock, as a Recipe, read on, the concept is truly very natural.

This proportion of difference might be very slight.

One percent difference in DNA can mean the difference between one discernible distinct species and another discernible distinct species.

My mother was in the middle of baking a meatloaf when a bunch of panicked people raced into the kitchen yelling the problem. There were a lot more people coming to dinner than expected and there was no time to change the menu and cook more, or new food.

My mother, undaunted, said, “Hand me some broth. I’ll turn the meatloaf into  a huge stew.”

And she did.

She had an innate knowledge that the difference between many things is more in the perception than in the reality.

But she did not stop there.

Spaghetti  cooks quick. So she scooped out some future meatballs from the meatloaf.

In less than twenty minutes the meatloaf that was meant to feed six became stew with spaghetti and meatballs able to feed twenty.

Slight differences in composition and ingredients made huge differences in the final product.

This is equally true of humans.

The difference that makes us individuals is one thing and one thing only — How we choose to react to situations.

Let us apply this to our little equation:

A = R

Where A is the Thing, R is the Recipe.

Let us look closely at R.

R = (RsiRpi)

Where Rsi is the sum of the ingredients.

Here we need to keep in mind that stew is still identifiable as stew whether it contains salt or not or whether it contains oregano or not. It is identifiable as the same stew even though you add peppers to spice it up.

Where Rpi is the proportions of those ingredients.

Remember my mother’s stew and the meatloaf had exactly the same ingredients. The spaghetti and meatballs only had one new ingredient.

Where A equals the Sum of its Ingredients factored by the Proportion of those Ingredients. This creates an aggregate identity that can be perceived by The Perceiver. Which is then processed, categorized, and possibly reported to others via language.

The R is simply the Recipe.

In other words all of reality consists of recipes that consist of the same ingredients recombined over and over again.

Are we finished?


The last produces more confusing clarification: We need to dig just a little deeper into identity.

A = R = (RsiRpi ) -> Qn

Or, written in English.

R is the Sum and Proportion of its ingredients expressed as distinct Qualities. These qualities are perceived as hard, soft, rough, smooth, heavy, light, tasty, smelly, etc.


A = R = (RsiRpi ) -> Qn = I <- Pn

A is a Recipe that equals the Sum and Proportions of its ingredients and is expressed as various Qualities that present a distinct Identity that can be Received by each Perceiver in a different way.

A tree is a bunch of bored quarks who got together for a little party. They banded together into little Ménage à trois to produce electrons, neutrons, etc. That banded together into atoms and molecules. That produced all kinds of parts of the tree. Those parts somehow all came together and produced the tree.


Aristotle’s universe was very drab and boring compared to the real thing.

Just remember:

A  ≠ A

An = Rn = (RsiRpi )n -> Q = I <- Pn   

So (RsiRpi) can easily be reduced to Ripn

Looking at this alleged formula brings one to the same philosophical conclusion as arrived at by particle physics.

To wit:

A thing does not really exist except as a potential possibility until we perceive it.

But it gets worse.

We, who perceive it are, to varying degrees, deaf and blind and otherwise limited in our perceptions.

So we are not able to fully perceive that which our perceptions have brought into existence.

We get to that later.

Right now lets just shorten our equation to Rn -> I <- Pn.

A -> I <- P

All the complexities that go into the creation of A produces an Identity that is Received by a Perceiver.

R = A <- P

Or even:

A <- P

In English: A person, place, idea, or thing as perceived by the individual in question.

This is a perfectly fine simplified equation to use instead of:

An = Rn = (RsiRpi )n = Ripn ->  Qn = I  <- Pn

So long as we remember that it is a simplified, shortened form. 



© 2013 All Rights Reserved


Aristotle was an Idiot: Part 3

1 Jun

Aristotle was an idiot (Part 3)


We now come to the most idiotic of Aristotle’s three laws.


The law of the excluded middle.


Either (A or not A)


Either something exists or it does not exist.


Either a statement is true or it is false.


The tree exists in one sense. It does not exactly exist in several other senses. It is an emergent phenomena that we don’t have a clue how to explain. It is a novel emergence that is an example of the genus tree.

A river exists in a sense. But it has less existence in another some ways than the tree. The tree is a process that is slow. Its sap is a sluggish thing hidden from our eyes. Its other processes are also hidden, including the way it changes sunlight into nourishment. A river is a quicker process. It changes before our eyes so quickly that the water we were looking at the beginning of this paragraph is long gone now and other water from somewhere upstream has taken its place.

So the river neither exists nor does it not exist. It is an emergent phenomena that we are able to perceive and name.

Even the name is fluid.

Many of the rivers in California are creeks in Missouri.

Size matters.

Who is looking matters.


The biggest problem with the excluded middle is that it promotes ignorance and unreasonable thinking.


It promotes ignorant concepts such as, “You are either with us or against us.”

It is the kind of thinking that promotes bigotry, hatred, and superiority thinking — Either you think like Aristotle thinks or you are an ignorant jackass.

Either you give the answer that is in the back of the book or you get an “F”.


Excluding the middle, if a person actually did that, would be to take our society back at least 2,000 years.


ALL of science takes place in the middle.


Let me give you a quick course in economics using Map Thinking™.

Take a picture of a teeter totter.

When the benefits on one end equal the cost in resources on the other the teeter totter will balance. When this has happened the most efficient decision has been reached.

Note that economics is a great way of reaching decisions for future actions in all kinds of situations.

And it is far less complicated than logic to learn.


And where is this decision for optimal action made?

In the middle.

The center of the teeter totter where pros and cons balance each other.


The Bell Curve has so many uses in so many ways I cannot begin to even enumerate them all.

And where is the Bell Curve?

In the middle.


If you want to add Complexity Theory to the mix then you add the Power Law, a sort of Deformed Bell Curve with a serious slope, or slide on one side.

And where is this found?

In the middle.


All of the progress in science has been made either at the edges of our knowledge or in the excluded middle.


Steven Hawking makes a massive statement in “The Universe in a Nutshell”:


“The question, ‘Do extra dimensions really exist?’ has no meaning. All one can ask is whether mathematical models with extra dimensions provide a good description of the universe.”


And that, my friend, is Map Thinking™ in a nutshell. Not just about mathematics, or about extra dimensions — But about everything.


The excluded middle, in effect, rejects all maps, models, graphs, pictures, and actions. All that is left is the words and the definitions you apply to them.

Conclusions from these, in logic, are called truth.


Let’s go back to Steven Hawking:


“I take the positivist viewpoint that a physical theory is just a mathematical model and that it is meaningless to ask whether it corresponds to reality. All that one can ask is that its predictions should be in agreement with observation.”


One thing that places Aristotle totally in the idiot category is that in other things — He stayed, and demanded others stay — Square in the middle.


In The Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle constantly harps on finding the middle way between two extremes. Choose bravery, which is the middle position between cowardice and foolhardiness. Choose politeness which is between rudeness and servility. One should be neither a glutton nor neglect oneself through self denial.

Unfortunately those who chose to follow his thinking were more idiotic than he and they chose to ignore his sensible ethics.

Thus if gluttony is bad his followers believe there is virtue in starving oneself. If greed is a sin then self denial is a virtue. If lust is wrong then virginity is the only virtue. And son on and so on.


In other words Aristotle was only half an idiot.


His followers were complete idiots.


Come to think of it, this could be said of most religions.


Map Thinking™  places reasoning where reasoning should be, between the extremes, where reality lies and where the action is. Not at the extremes, which are dead ends.


Map Thinking™ is by nature both empirical and positivist.


That is Map Thinking™ first looks to empirical evidence. From the empirical evidence maps, models, graphs, charts, etc are built. The maps are checked for usefulness. Not for accuracy.


In Map Thinking™ comprehension of relationships are considered of primary importance.


I hope you will take the adventure into Map Thinking™ with me starting with how this effects the “three laws of thought” as espoused by Aristotle.




Aristotle was an idiot (part 2)

25 May

The law of non contradiction.

This is often written in the following dumb format:

Not (A and not A)

This takes a simple statement in English, inverts it, and then expresses it in math form. Nice way to complicate the issue for people who are not math informed.

This works great with Americans whose schooling has somehow taught them, “I’m no good at math.”

How an entire nation of people can be programmed into that five word sentence by so many teachers spending eight hours a day five days a week for twelve years would be easier to understand if most math weren’t relatively simple and if the job of teachers weren’t expected to educate the public.

Of course the same teacher will quickly point out that the above sentence fails grammatically even though its communication is clear.

Someday I will write a Map Thinker’s Guide to Grammar™. But not today.

So let’s make it simple English and simple math.

Either A exists or A does not exist.

It cannot be both at once.

There is a problem with this.

The Law of the Excluded Middle, which we will deal with next makes that statement.

Either (A or not A)

They make the same basic statement but they mean different things. That is why they are expressed differently. Seen as neither one makes much sense to a Map Thinker™ it doesn’t really matter but we will go over the distinction just because.

Not (A or Not A) means that a thing cannot both exist and not exist at the same time in the same way. Or you can say a statement cannot be both true and false at the same time.

I used the word “way” while most translations I have read say “respect”. I doubt if either one carries the exact meaning of the original. Even if you speak modern Greek I am not convinced you would be certain exactly what the same word meant 2,300 years ago.

Today we know, from quantum physics that some pretty large particles can in fact exist in more than one place at the same time in the same way. The largest I have heard of is a drumstick. The kind made of wood you play a drum with, not the kind from chicken you eat.

But lets take something larger.

Two things I love. Water and Trees.

A tree on a knoll either exists there or it does not. It (at present knowledge) cannot both be there and not be there at the same time. It may not be there tomorrow, it may be cut down, or zapped by lightning.

Unless of course you subscribe to the Quantum concept of parallel universes in which case there will be a universe where the tree is on the knoll and another where it does not exist there. How about the one where the knoll itself does not exist there.

But lets call that reaching.

The question arises, “Does the tree exist at all?”

In point of reality it does not.

The tree is a product of Emergence. That is the tree is built of simple building blocks that are built of even simpler building blocks that are composed of non-particles that are also non-waves.


That may sound confusing.

It is.

It is a combination of my understanding of particle physics and complexity theory.

The tree itself is an expression of a combination of relationships that exist in reality in such a way as to produce a species we call “tree” and this is a particular member of that species.

So the tree is really a figment of our imaginations. We aren’t completely sure what is out there. We are sure that this particular combination of universal building blocks is identifiable as both a species and an individual and we call them trees.

So no matter how you look at a tree using modern knowledge it both exists and does not exist at the same time.

And we are talking about something we can cut down to build houses, handcuff ourselves to so others cannot cut them down to build houses, climb, kick, or hug.

In reality the tree does not really exist.

But we can treat it as though it exists in the same way as Aristotle conceived of it.

Things do not get easier when we tackle concepts instead of objects we can touch, hear, taste, hold, smell, see, kiss, or rub on.

A thing can only be true or false if it is narrowly defined. If the parameters are sufficiently delineated. The problem is that once a term is so narrowly defined that it can be true or false it must be agreed upon by two or more people.

In Aristotelean logic most arguments happen because those involved did not agree on their terms, their definitions.

Thus if we agree that Aristotle was the wisest man in history there is little we have to argue about.

There is little point in any discussion between us.

If we agree that Socrates was the wisest man in history then we also have little to disagree about.

There is little point in any discussion between us.

If you believe Aristotle was the wisest man in history and I believe Socrates was the wisest man in history then we disagree about everything.

There is little point in any discussion between us.

Aristotle wanted answers.

Aristotle constructed methods that would force agreements between people who disagreed. If you followed his rules only one truth could exist and the winner of the argument was the one who had demonstrated his was the true argument.

Socrates realized that what people believe to be true is seldom true and that what people believe they know to be real very seldom is. Socrates realized that what is considered knowledge is, like the tree discussed above, a fiction. It does not really exist.

Aristotle represents certainty.

Socrates represents chaos.

Aristotle, like any good preacher, gave the people what they wanted. A feeling of superiority over all lesser beings. These included animals, foreigners, women, and deaf people. He provided simple, easy to master, rules that reinforced this feeling.

Socrates, like any good scientist, sought to find the boundaries of what is known. You cannot explore any concept until you know where the limit of that concept is.

Here we have the basis of logic, both as a workable system of thought, and logic as a failure of reason.

If you believe Aristotle was God’s human gift to Reason, then I am an idiot and there is no point in your paying any attention to anything I have to say.

Your belief is your truth.

If you believe, as I do, that Aristotle did little or nothing to advance humanity and stifled human progress with lousy reasoning, then you must recognize Socrates as a martyr.

Our belief is our truth.

What matters is not that our truth is different.

What matters is that neither of us has the right to force the other to change our truth.

There is no truth.

There is only belief.

And our beliefs are maps.

The maps are not the territories.

Our maps, no matter how useful, are in some way wrong.

If we ask the right questions we may discover where our maps have gone awry.

The law of non-contradiction makes no sense.



© 2013 All Rights Reserved

Aristotle is an idiot (part one)

18 May

Aristotle was an idiot (part one)

He was probably an idiot in his own time

When compared to real thinkers such as Socrates

And it is certainly idiotic to follow his lead 2300 years after his death.

Lets look at the three laws of thought:



A = A

Everything is itself and the same as itself.

That sentence does have meaning, although in today’s world, full of scientific knowledge, we know that the only thing that is itself and only itself is whatever you are able to stand and point to / at.

And this is problematical.

But that thing is only itself for as long as it is there and not changed. A tree may outlive us for a thousand years but someday it too will be gone. And it will, in all likely hood not be the same tree after a thousand years. It will have grown taller, fatter, may have been trough a fire and lost twenty per cent of its foliage or half of its limbs. It may have been topped for a Christmas tree.

Hey, lets propagate that tree, which means the new tree will in effect be the same tree — but let’s do some science. How about we inject a little human DNA to the new growth.

Not sure how that could be done but I’m willing to bet there will come a time when someone does it.

Wait a minute, humans already share what, 50%, 70% of their DNA with trees — and a company called Biopresence will put YOUR DNA into a tree as a memorial.

Come to think of it eating a banana is cannibalism.

Using that criteria one must wonder just how much difference there is between a vegetarian and a carnivore or an omnivore?

How would you feel if the tree created using your DNA was used someday to build a house? Would it matter which house was built? Would it matter if it were used in a housing project or a funeral home or an orphanage?

There would appear serious evidence exists that meteorites carry the basic building blocks of DNA with them trough space.

So you can think of meteorites as space sperm looking for a fertile female planet to impregnate.

The next time you skip a rock across a lake think of the idea you may be drowning a distant cousin.

There is a tiny bit more to the law of identity.

A final point of absurdity:

“A statement cannot remain the same and change its truth value.”


For Aristotle it meant a lot. He believed in an absolute, independent, truth.

For a Map Thinker this makes no sense.

A map thinker knows truth is an accurate statement of a specific event at a specific place that lasts a specific length of time. Last Tuesday at ten a.m. The stop light was green.

The big dipper will be recognizable in its present form for the next thousand years.

Okay, the point of all this:

We need to rewrite the Law of Identity for use today.

A thing is distinguishable as itself to the extent it is different from everything else.

We are going to abolish the whole thing about truth value.

For example Aristotle believed the human species was the unquestionably superior creature of all creation.

This, to him, was an absolute truth.

Most people today would have at least a degree of doubt that humans are in fact the perfect species.

The biggest problem with the Law of Identity, as Aristotle promulgates it, is that it separates things completely from all other things they relate too and from time. That is a thing in Aristotle’s world has no connections to any thing else, has no past and no future.

Such a thing cannot exist in our reality.

Lets apply this to you as a person.

Your identity depends on those things that distinguish you from all other people in the world.

Part of that is genetics.

Part of that is your past.

Part of that is how you see yourself today.

Part of that is what you wish, or believe, you will, or may become in the future.

You don’t have to strive to do any of this. All you have to do is strive to be yourself and strive to create yourself into the future person you would wish to become.

Nice to meet you. 🙂

© 2013 All Rights Reserved

Quick Review # 2

11 May

Review: Two.

When you, as a person in a discussion, realize PoPo™ has hit the point where you have met the Wittgenstein Wall™ then you have the best, the simplest, the most useful remedy at your disposal.


Question and Question again™.

This is what will bring the conversation back under control. It will either clarify the terms, words, concepts, etc to the point where they can be spoken about in useful ways that have meanings or they will show the conversation to be worthless and not worth engaging in.

So the question becomes, “What questions do we ask?”

The first question should be obvious, but because of our conditioning is not.

For example an ad reading, “You too can be a success.”

Or, lets take a shirt a young girl taking a college course in management once wore to work. “You too can be a leader.”

An experienced Map Thinker™ will automatically notice the presuppositions in the statement. With a little practice this takes no thought. It just happens.

You too can be a leader.

It assumes you are not a leader.

It assumes you want to be a leader.

It assumes being a leader is somehow a good thing.

It assumes the person or company can teach you.

Once you see the presuppositions you can question any of them or all of them.

But the real question is, “Why bother?

Should you spend any time thinking about something simply because you hear it or read it?

Closely related to this is the traditional “Cui Bono”.

Who benefits?

What is your benefit?

You have so much time on earth. The time you spend thinking about becoming, or not becoming, a leader could be spent doing something else. Something that will reward your time either in amusement, learning, or something else.

You may enjoy thinking about this particular dumb slogan, (I found it enjoyable). Then do so. It may be that examining that slogan might produce insights into your own character or that of others. I did.

There is really only one reason for doing anything.

You receive a reward for the resources you put into it.

The reward can be immediate. My immediate reward for writing this blog is that I enjoy putting my ideas on paper and I believe someone somewhere will find reading these blogs rewarding.

The reward can be so distant, such as membership in Heaven, or The Elysian Fields, etc that you have to die to find out if you even receive it.

Most of us settle for in between rewards. I go to work five days a week so I can do what I enjoy during the evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Students are asked to go to school whether they like it or not, whether they are suited to it or not, whether they care about what they are learning or not, whether what they are learning will benefit them in the future or not — with the vague hope they will get a better job than the person sitting next to them. If they would prefer to be happy, healthy, or wise, or even wealthy, — No offer is given them. Only that if they succeed in school they will, on average, receive more money during their lifetime than those who do not.

Is it any wonder most boys would rather play football where they can receive immediate rewards and instant respect?

So the first question should be obvious:

Why bother with the question?

It should be asked more often.

So what questions should we take our time and resources to ask?

If, like me, you enjoy exploring certain questions then that is the answer.

If you are not going to enjoy exploring the question for the sake of doing so, then we have to determine what reward we expect to get from doing so. This is very much like going to work during the week so you can go fishing, or watching football on a big screen TV on weekends.

If you were to study logic then you would be encouraged to be logical and rational at all times. Whether the issue was important or not.

Mapology™ would encourage you to be rational only when the reward for doing so is worth the time and effort you are going to spend decoding the situation. Usually this entails an expenditure of resources versus rewards for doing so.

Making choices that need to be made, reaching agreements that need to be mutually adhered too, that allocate resources towards a goal are the only reasons to apply the time and effort to solve a problem that you do not enjoy solving for the mental challenge. Using this scale which movie you want to see may be more reasonable to devote thinking too than whether war should be waged over a specific issue.

Your choice in movies involves two hours of your time to be spent, and the two hours of time you already spent on your job earning the money to pay to get into the movies. A total investment of four hours of your life. You want to see a movie you are really going to enjoy.

Your choice in whether your country should go to war will not be counted. Your share of the amount of its cost will be taken from your paycheck without your consent. Its impact upon you cannot possibly be determined ahead of time.

On the other hand voicing your opinion does have value. Every time you voice your opinion exposes someone else to it. That exposure may encourage the other person to modify their opinion, change their opinion, or agree with you. The next person they speak too may be effected by the effect you had on the first person. Slowly the world may come a little closer to agreeing with you.

When that happens change will happen.

On the other hand asking questions can be fun.

I do.

I asked the girl wearing the shirt questions.

“Why would I want to be a leader?”

She believes everyone wants to be a leader and anyone who claims otherwise is crying sour grapes because they don’t want to admit they are failures. However she knew that if they faced up to their true desires they too could learn to become leaders no matter how old they were or how often they had failed in the past.

Her college courses had brainwashed the poor girl as thoroughly as any off beat religious cult would brainwash its coverts.

This is one reason to get into the habit of asking questions and never accepting anyone else’s answers. The more easily a person accepts the conclusions of another the more easily they are under the influence of anyone they perceive of as having authority.

The less easily a person accepts the conclusions of another the more apt they are to think for themselves.

Map Thinking ™ is the tool of choice for those who wish to think for themselves.

QaQa™ is the tool of choice for those who wish to maximize their ability to think for themselves.



© 2013 All Rights Reserved

Quick Review # 1

4 May

If you have born with me through the last blogs you now have three simple, easy to learn, easy to use, actually fun, tools that will enable you to cut through garbage thinking.

Lets look at them.


PoPo™ stands for the Principle of Progressive obscurity.

The idea here is simple and easy enough for any child to comprehend. The more specific, the more concrete, the subject you are talking about the more you know exactly what you are talking about.

Little Mr. PerfectIf you are talking about a specific dog, say the Chihuahua in the picture, the more you can know about that dog. We can say he is an older dog. That he is a Chihuahua, you can count his teeth, discuss his penchant for eating fresh tomatoes out of his mistress’s garden, etc.

You can learn a lot about this specific Chihuahua.

The problem is all this information will tell you little about Chihuahuas in general.

You can guess that not all Chihuahuas will like to pluck tomatoes out of the garden and munch them but you can’t know how common that impulse is among the breed.

You can learn a lot about Chihuahuas in general, but all of this information will only tell you what to expect if you deal with a sizable section of Chihuahuas. It will not tell you a lot about what to expect in any particular Chihuahua. The particular Chihuahua might very well be atypical.

This is a sort of Heisenberg Principle of Language.

The more you know about the concrete object you can see, smell, taste, touch, and hear, the less you know about the larger, more general case.

The larger the general case the less you know about the concrete, specific instance of that case.

Thus you can know a lot of things about dogs in general.

But that knowledge will only give you general clues to the nature of any specific breed of dogs. The group of dogs called Chihuahuas may be very atypical in some respects to other breeds and any one Chihuahua may be atypical of its breed.

Keeping PoPo™ in mind helps you to realize how little or how much you know at any given time about the subject you are talking about. It also gives you insight into how much the speaker you are listening too actually knows what they are talking about.

Politics and advertising are rife with slogans that have no meaning.

Wittgenstein has this to say: “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.”

I call it the Wittgenstein Wall™.

Clarity to a certain degree depends on who is speaking and who is being spoken too.

A pair of electronics engineers will talk together in terms that would confuse the average electronics technician let alone a lay person. The key is they would both know exactly what the other is saying and be able to explain to the lay person what was being said.

Business people, on the other hand, often speak to each other in jargon so obtuse they find it impossible to explain to a lay person with any precision what it is they are talking about.

Lets take a look at ads.

One of my favorite is, “Genuine old fashioned (insert [I’m thinking peanut butter]product) now new and improved”.


It is nonsense.

It is also humorous. (I find it funny).

But it sold (¿peanut butter?).

If you approach the sentence, “Genuine old fashioned product now new and improved.” From a logical standpoint “Genuine old fashioned” and “new and improved” openly contradict each other. Which is true.

When you look at the sentence from a word for word standpoint you realize none of the words have real meaning.

What does “genuine” mean?

Real. True. Correct. Honest. Authentic.

How is it used?

As a modifier. It has no “genuine” meaning until it is given something to mean. Genuine peanut butter. Genuine butter. Genuine wool. Genuine milk.


Genuine anything is anything with genuine in front of it.

It does imply that other peanut butters, other soaps, other milks, are not genuine. It implies they are fake.

But why?

Several things are going on here and logic cannot encompass them.

But Logic, or at least the penchant for the either / or aspect of pseudo logical does help to explain what is going on. I say pseudo logical because Logic, as used by someone who knows and understands the intricacies of logic, such as a professor of philosophy, will automatically compensate for Aristotle’s “excluded middle”. In other words the less a person knows about genuine Logic the more apt they are to believe that stating everything in “either – or” statements are Logical.

So people, consciously, or subconsciously, who have not broken the socially trained instinct for “either-or” thinking will respond to “genuine peanut butter” as though it were the genuine article and other peanut butters were not.

In truth the law defines what can or cannot be called peanut butter.


The law and I disagree about what “real” peanut butter is.


The law says peanut butter does not have to have any peanut oil in it. All the peanut oil can be taken out and substituted with cheaper, less healthy, oils — And by law it can still be called peanut butter.

When dealing with the law one has to be very aware of PoPo™.

Legal definitions come about because there has been a legal disagreement in the past that was decided in a court of law. The legal definition that was decided upon may not be the one you would think or expect.

Most people assume that once they divorce their spouse their mother-in-law is no longer their mother-in-law.


I know of no way to un-mother-in-law a woman once she has been mother-in-lawed in. If you have had eight spouses and divorced every one of them then you have eight mothers-in-law.

Happy family reunion.

© 2013 All Rights Reserved


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 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:


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?”


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.

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?”


“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 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.


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.


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?


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.

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?”


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