Hackernoon logoPerils of Induction: Doubting Thomases, Rigor, NFTs & Descartes by@anarchocatholic

Perils of Induction: Doubting Thomases, Rigor, NFTs & Descartes

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From truth to peer review to copy; anarcho-capitalism; bitcoin; Defi; blockchain; marketing; Austrian economics

On this day, Second Sunday of Easter, also known as the Octave Day of EasterWhite SundayQuasimodo Sunday, and Low Sunday, traditional Catholics following the traditional liturgical calendar in the Roman Rite, ponder the Gospel of St. John (here taken from the 1945 St. Andrew Missal):

“Now Thomas, one of the 12, who is called Didymus was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciple therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe. And after eight days, again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. Then He saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing. Thomas answered and said to Him: My Lord and my God. Jesus saith to him: Because thou has seen Me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.”

It’s an interesting grounding for a critique on academia, the world of the peer-review, what we call science, industry, and now it seems even the everyday. I’ve subjected myself to what academe calls ‘rigor’ in order to get published. But what exactly is this ‘rigor’? A simple google search for a definition yields, “the quality of being thorough, exhaustive, or accurate”, “severity or strictness”, “demanding, difficult, or extreme conditions”. In the world of the scientific peer-review, your work is evaluated by the editor of an academic journal, who decides whether your paper will be sent out to be critiqued (via a blind review) by three or four other academics. Your paper is sent back to the editor, who evaluates the critique and ultimately decides whether the journal will proceed to accept your paper for publication (oft subject to revisions) or not. This is essentially what rigor is—one is subjected to ‘strict’ rules of ones peers, who consider one another ‘experts’ in evaluating and critiquing a piece of work. The system is inductive, where general principles (also decisions, impressions, and critiques) are derived from specific observations.

Just from an everyday common-sense perspective, one should see the highly subjective nature of the process. At the same time, from a logical perspective, it is a fallacy—because it assumes everyone in the whole must have the same characteristics of the parts. It should prove disturbing to anyone how the industry of knowledge isn’t instead premised on reason; and that science as we know it isn’t actually logical or reasonable.

What is logical is empirical. What isn't logical can’t be empirical. A prime test of reality and truth is whether it passes the logic test, where human folly, impressions, and biases can’t figure into determining whether something is or isn’t. Inductive ‘logic’, however, isn’t confined to academia. A majority rules or peer system governs both board rooms and labor unions. They used to call this sophistry. And as this global health issue has shown, the survey has become the primary arbiter of decisions and choices. Indeed, numbers are part and parcel of Math and arithmetic is logic; but haven’t the numbers been robbed of the essence of logic itself? Have not the graphs, charts, percentage points, various quantities cited from and by ‘expert’ upon ‘expert' culled so ‘rigorously’, which have come to be the plaque and emblem of trust been stripped of the essence of logic down to mere consensus, impression, and rule of the majority, or in some cases the majority of the elite? But rigor is not reason; and what isn’t logical can’t be empirical.

Christ was/ is Logos Incarnate; and the civilization, which built what we have today (from science to architecture, engineering, law, education, and commerce) was (is) a Catholic Christian one, which is inevitably premised on this idea of ‘Logos Incarnate’. It should be paradoxically both refreshing and daunting to all (whether Catholic or not) that the very basis of civilization and its consequences came off this--'truth' for Catholics, 'concept' for non-Catholics. And that we should turn our world around (upside down, really) and premise it on inductive (vs. deductive logic) is a defiance of both reason and sense. This is why experience has been touted the best teacher, which contradicts Logos Incarnate and ‘what is logical is empirical’. Truth is, experience isn’t the default and inherent best teacher. It is the inefficient teacher. Logic oft acquired through much research and reading is the best teacher. Indeed, it does require practice (thus, experience); but the ‘experience’ touted today is not this type experience but an immersion with what is referred to as real-world situations (which is good in itself). Problem is, if this fondness and bias for ‘experience’ comes at the expense of logic. What if one is 'learning' in an environment that is anti-logic?

Logic has become so difficult for many and in fact, most. Thus, while ‘what is logical is empirical’, the pain of achieving and maintaining logic (true rigor in the acquisition of habits of the mind towards consistency in thought and fidelity to the flow of these thoughts) is not an appealing proposition. Acting before thinking has trumped the more prudent prudence. In reality, however, ‘experience’ is an inefficient and slow teacher as one has to go through various events of pain, oft stretching an entire lifetime to learn and gain. You don’t have to jump off a cliff or touch fire to know how that’s going to feel or turn out. Logic saves you the trouble. But we’ve come to prefer the more circuitous and long route.

This is not an affront on practice, praxis, and experience. I do not discount the necessity. I am merely arguing for the superiority of deductive logic. In fact, the affront on logic might be more serious. Let’s take the case of what the invention of bitcoin and its blockchain has enabled—the superiority of code; in other words, logic. Verification (on so public a ledger) vs. ‘trust’ (especially in comparison to legal tender known as ‘fiat’) is certainly an interesting and wonderful proposition. Anyone who has followed and looked into the history of bitcoin, knows while it is a product of human design (the anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto), it's human design that came as a consequence of central planning and the manipulation of ‘money’. One can argue, it was thus, organic and natural. The last straw seemed to have been the 2008 financial crisis. Moreover, this product of human design, which remains to have been created by someone who is either dead or prefers to be permanently invisible, is open source (thus, anyone can work on it), public (anyone and everyone can use and see its activities and transactions), and is built on economic incentives for its growth and survival, has made it practically fool-proof for any sort of compromise and infiltration. It’s very foundation, grass roots development, and tokenomics (as the people in the space like to call it), ensure its fidelity to logic not just in its code (which non-coders can’t even understand) but its function and utility as a system and store of value. It’s a real case for ‘what is logical is empirical’.

But while bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and blockchains are based on code (math and logic), ‘what is logical is empirical’ isn’t yet quite clear with other blockchains and alt-coins. Qualitatively, when translated to experience and culture, the consequences and effects can be driven by anti-logic. This is most apparent in the space of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). I sometimes wonder if writers of code are based on logic or Cartesian ‘logic’—which is logical within its realm (and why Descartes lived in his head and the logic he invented was never and can never be empirical)—giving birth to bubbles as the norm and foundation of civilization and society.

We might just be devolving from mere Doubting Thomases who need to see in order to believe to disciples of ‘rigor’ (rule by the majority, elite, or both) who don’t need to see because there are others (‘experts’ and ‘chosen ones’), who will do the job of seeing to an almost complete withdrawal from reality, choosing to be in a bubble of hype, hysteria, emotion, and noise now tokenized with possible value or ‘value’. The verdict is still out on this one though. I, myself dabble in NFTs. But I prefer to guard and ensure my inclination to logic and thus remain critical by default. It also helps to do so in determining, which are Cartesian (bubbles) and which are not. Ironically, it has become necessary to become a Doubting Thomas these days of what looks like a third level withdrawal from logic and doubt.

Going back to Thomas though, and to be true to ‘what is logical is empirical’, to err is human (the stain of original sin has remained). His folly might just have been a case for this as well as a case against the premium we’ve placed on inductive logic as the backbone of civilization. St. Thomas, however, almost immediately acknowledged his folly, perhaps being first to directly acknowledge and proclaim the divinity of Christ, with “My Lord and my God”. He went on to create converts to Christianity, preaching from Babylon to Persia and finally to Malabar, India (present-day Madras), where he was reportedly thrown into a pit and pierced with a Brahmin’s spear. There are, in fact, St. Thomas Christians (Mar Thomas Nazranis or Syrian Christians). Indeed, it might seem, our current more circuitous and inductive route of rigor vs. logic, might just be going through a test. Question is, is it a unicorn (bubble), empiricism, or will logic be incarnate?

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by AnarchoCatholic @anarchocatholic. From truth to peer review to copy; anarcho-capitalism; bitcoin; Defi; blockchain; marketing; Austrian economicsRead my stories

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