Semantic Erosion/Post Truth/Semantic Apocalypse, Part 1

It’s funny – it’s a hard to introduce subject because it’s about subjects being hard to introduce. In Venn diagram terms, hard to find some overlap of circles on the subject of non overlapping circles. Who wants to listen on the subject about them not listening?

Fantasy Author R. Scott Bakker has had various posts on the idea of a ‘Semantic Apocalypse’. A recent one here, using a real life example to raise the hypothetical as possibly applying. It’s the Kavanaugh hearings, btw. Not your kind of thing? Well the subject is things that don’t overlap the interests of others, so that kind of fits you have to admit.

A crude way to put it is possibly just that political spin gets bigger and bigger. It’s probably got more nuance than that, but that idea is a circle that kind of reaches out. In addition we have a history where people of differing ideas had to work together to survive – now that’s not so much the case. People can have more and more extreme ideas and use search engines to find people who share those ideas. Rather than having to only be able to talk to a range of people with a range of views, most of which would tell them ‘That’s a bit extreme’. And so maybe take the extremism down a notch or two. Instead you get stuff like theredpill on reddit.

So you get spin and you get machinery/the internet that helps polarised people find polarised people and reaffirm their polarisation. Rather than have it turned down a notch or two by only seeing a range of people with a range of views.

I wanted to get onto some concerns Scott raised in a pair of comments

“I very much worry that warning of the semantic apocalypse will have the effect of contributing to it”

and the other comment

“Understanding the mechanics of human sociocognition enables evermore manipulation of human sociocognition means the eventual doom of human sociocognition.”

And who doesn’t love a bit of doom, eh?

But these I realise are circles inside of the first circle. And the first circle is hard enough to find some tasty gristle in to chew on. But if doom is a kind of tasty gristle, I assure you there’s something to chew on there! And I’ll leave this here as a sort of reasonably bite sized portion and move onto the other parts in future – having not actually reached the subjects I started writing for to begin with! What can I say, there was more gristle than I realised?

What is your Major Determinism Malfunction?

There’s a kind of float – a sense people are detached from how you understand an idea, but what is that detachment, it’s left as a floating variable. A hovering question mark.

Plus on top of that, when someone comes out with something, you can’t be sure that’s what everyone thinks. But hey, someone made a video, so there’s enough commitment there to aim at.

Warning: This post dips into some semi industrial grade nihilism. It gets fairly caustic.

It’s at 215 seconds, if this thing isn’t embedding properly.

Responsibility and punishment don’t really make sense?

How were they supposed to make sense? What were they, just some sense of rising vengeance or something? Never mind what that rising emotion did, just let it rise and manifest physically?

“If we’re just a product of our past then we don’t really choose to do the things we do”

I honestly can’t get my head around this, really – not in one singular vein. Part of it I think is just hard wired excuse making. Got an idea for making an excuse? Express it! If it works, you get out of a lot of bad stuff. If it doesn’t work, the caloric effort of breathing a few words was very low. Low chance of working but low cost of making the effort to begin with Vs perhaps avoiding big bad stuff == making lame excuse.

Another angle I try to get it from is best described as there being like two words – one where we are creatures of positive and negative feedback – you touch the hot plate, you scald your fingers, you don’t touch it again. The other is the exact same world, but from the perspective of a creature that is unaware it is a creature of positive and negative feedback. So in this ‘world’ the creature just ‘does things’, to quote the Joker. They choose, they don’t come from a compilation of hotplates and sundaes. Imagine suddenly taking away the idea of ‘free choice’. What would such a creature navigate from then, in regards to a legal system? Nothing, of course. The legal system is to them an expression of vengeance (or something). And it’s for that purpose because…vengeance! ‘Choice’ is a product of the imaginary plane of existence not at all involving being a compilation of +/- feed backs.

The idea of a penal system that’s basically like repairing broken mechanisms, that’s just off the radar for people in this ‘world’. But fair enough, the penal system as of this present day doesn’t do that – in fact it breaks mechanisms worse than before. But that kind of speaks of a commitment far beyond this video.

But anyway, ‘Oh why would it make sense for anyone to suffer, oh! How can we be punished for something we didn’t choose?’.

It’s like saying you should only go through a treatment if you made a pact with the devil. No devil means no treatment, right? Once the devil – ie, choice – is gone, how can you be punished (/have your negative feedback systems stimulated (and be locked away from slightly more sane society))?

Well, I guess the devil is gone, but the deep blue sea that there is no compilation of negative and positive feedback, that’s still there in this second world. Things get pretty wonky when you remove only part of the supernatural ecology.

And completely butcher the idea of determinism. Putting it into major malfunction. Or at least how I understand the word.

Including completely butchering the idea of complexity in those negative and positive feedbacks. The many, many scales involved, each tipping onto other scales, which tip onto other scales and so on. Sometimes in a loop. A deep complexity so rich that made making up imaginary worlds where there are no scales at all both absurd and yet makes sense to operate from – you don’t know how your computer works, how the internet works. But that thin knowledge you have that gets you the images on screen that you want, you just focus on that – and ignore the greater complexity. And so mankind ignores the greater complexity of its own positive and negative feedback system. It’s a positive feedback to ignore ones own methods of positive feedback. Ignorance is bliss.

Which means, until sufficiently advanced technology is deployed, there may as well be hope. You don’t get determinism when thinking ‘oh, it’s all just an iteration of the past!’. Sure, determinism’s hope is like some sort of monstrous version of what you’d call hope – like Frank Castle is a monstrous form of justice. Behind the fantasy second world stands something real, but twisted, mutilated and spindled in comparison.

But while the deep blue sea remains, the devil soon enough rises yet again.



How is Artificial Meat more Humane?

If artificial meat is ‘more humane’, what does that mean? That for millions of years were were being inhumane?? But we just didn’t talk about it or something? Just kind of overlooked it – maybe just gave the impression it was actually okay to butcher animals for meat? But suddenly if you can produce artificial meat then you can be ‘more humane’? It’d be like saying new technology X can make you less of a criminal – and maybe you are like ‘I was doing anything criminal at all to begin with??’

Thoughts provoked by a recent SMBC comic:


Witless Poem

It’s curious, the bent between…not actual signal to noise but instead signal to reception.

The billowing urgency, the message, the rising tide.


The pointlessness of the transmission. Dial a random phone number and speak into it without listening.

The same.

Grasp. Reach. Traction. Point. Morale. Effort. Institutionalized thieves, setting us against us and collecting the pittances into their own pocket.

(How many man hours are put into youtube? Yet who gains the profit?

But yet more people flock still.

They see glamour, when glamour is no longer attached to food and shelter.

They can’t see past their seeing. Which is the message.

And if you want to pass on a message, hand over your man hours to the thief)


And the silence in attempting to figure traction, when traction is all about not being silent.

Have I dialed your number?

Media formats presented as ‘unleashed’

Bit off the blogs usual topic, but there was a TV show here in Australia called collectors on ABC TV, and it suddenly went off air, it’s presenter on certain charges.

Basically commenting on the lack of ‘presumption of innocence’ and how the article on the ‘unleashed’ ABC site has had it’s comments disabled for ‘legal reasons’.

It’s funny what ‘unleashed’ really means in the end. It means leashed. Well, actually that’s not funny…I don’t know how else to put it.

Atleast the article itself is still there, and I couldn’t find anything I’d argue with it – it really is a lack of presumption of innocence.


Just a quick one – As we understand the system we live in, a psychopath, or a group of psychos who are gunna kill people, deserve X amount of police investigation/effort.

Okay, what happens if they are called terrorists? Do they get more than X amount of police investigation?

Why? Their just psycho’s, aren’t they? Why do they get more than the usual amount of attention?

The only reason I can think of, is that psycho’s don’t tend to propergate, while terrorist seem to be able to persuade others to their cause.

So why doesn’t the political talk about terrorists attempt to justify the extra efforts by stating this difference? Why do politicians and media just talk about dealing with terrorism, rather than talking about what, if anything, makes them different from a regular psycho? Why do they just talk about what we must do to stop terrorists? Talking over and over again, as if the cause is just, without need of further question and it’s just a matter of persuading us to it, when what makes a terrorist different from regular psychos is their ability to persua…oh…

Never mind. It’s not like were going to raise ourselves above just being persuaded to causes, rather than question the reason for the cause exists to begin with.

Your life at steak (pun intended)

You know, when saber tooth tigers were roaming around everywhere, I fully get the idea of putting work ahead of personal happiness. Whatever work it took to fend off those fearsome creatures!

I’ll describe the act of putting work ahead of personal happiness. Lets take eating a steak. Yum! It might not be a personal happiness for everyone, but it’s probably a pretty good general example. Okay, it’s yum, but it’s also full of calories. And it takes calories to do work. Its just a mechanically requisite to do work.

So, are you eating the steak to be happy, or are you eating the steak to do work? What is the act of eating it, for?

About here you’ll often find a ‘Have my cake(steak!) and eat it too’ perception. That you can enjoy the steak and then do the work with the calories it provides.

UNTIL you commit to that work, out of a sense of honour or duty or care or love or whatever the hell.

At that point, if you don’t happen to want steak right now, you still have to eat it in order to do the work. Is eating the steak an act of personal happiness now? No, it’s an act of work.

In fact I wouldn’t call it putting aside personal happiness to do work, I’d call it erasing personal happiness to do work. Acts of personal happiness are about being happy for the sake of being happy. They aren’t about being happy so as to achieve some other goal. That doesn’t even make sense to do – whatever the other goal is, you’d want it because it makes you happy – to give up happiness to achieve happiness?

But that’s what our parents told us, isn’t it? You have to sacrifice happiness now to get it latter. And this is where I get back to the saber tooth tigers. Your parents are damn right when it comes to natural disasters and various other things the world throws at us.

But you see, it’s not the world anymore. What surrounds you? Sabre tooth tigers, or people? People who are supposed to be on the same side as you. But people are still setting up a system where you sacrifice happyness now to get it latter. Or if you don’t want to, you are denied the infrastructures resources (IE, your denied money) and can live as a hobo. And that would be ‘your fault’ for slipping into such a lifestyle.

Were still setting up systems where you sacrifice happiness now for happiness latter, as if there are still sabre tooth tigers around. And you know, there are still dangers from the world – global warming, mutating diseases, etc. Also you get nearby countries (like, ahem, just above Australia) with rather…perhaps sabre tooth tendencies? Anyway, I fully grant there is conflict with the world and even with other countries of men who follow incompatible agendas.

But hell, it is not so bad that for food, warmth and shelter, you must bloody well sacrifice happiness now for the happiness of food, warmth and shelter latter.

There is no bloody war going on! Yet the structure keeps running like everyone has to sacrifice or were all doomed. Are we? There doesn’t seem to be anyone talking about us being on the verge of extinction as a country? You know, along with the talk of the latest reality TV, someone might slip in a word or two about you know, us being on the verge of annihilation.

Oh that’s right, they don’t because we aren’t. But we just keep bloody acting like we do, using a system where we all sacrifice happiness now for happiness latter, no matter how little sense that makes without any threat around. Our parents tell us to do it, and theirs before them, and so on a hundred thousand times, because for millions of years we were on the verge of extinction. From what I heard in terms of genetic tracing, the human race was down to two thousand people at one point. Think about that – that would mean all the ones who would work, would live. And be the seed of what we have left today.

Now all that’s left is the reflex to work to live. If you want to complain about your life, how things are monetarily, then you can blame this reflex in yourself and how you support this reflex in other people. The big corporate bastards aren’t screwing you down, you are. Your nurturing a reflex that is completely inapplicable, yet degrades your life. Those corporate bastards certainly work you dry, but without your ‘survival’ reflex and how you congratulate others for working rather than being happy right now, they wouldn’t be able to.

Ask yourself what’s so dangerous that you have to work the next hour, rather than play? And if it isn’t so dangerous, why is it that to get food, warmth and shelter, you must put work first and behave as if extinction is around the corner?