Bro-Epistemology: How to appraise the truth in an age of information (2022)

In this spaces episode, we explored the important meta-tool: how to think properly. We discussed the subject of epistemology--how it is that an idea can be appraised for its truthfulness. People today feel paralysed when confronted with the sheer volume of information available to them. It is difficult to tell which information is legitimate and which is not. There are a few key logical frameworks one can adopt in order to make these decisions easier.

A logical framework is a template for thinking that one may use to ask the correct series of questions that will determine whether an idea within a given context is useful or not.

This logical framework, which I may be so bold as to call “pure reason” (at the risk of resurrecting and disturbing the soul of Mr. Kant) is amenable to efficient goods and not necessarily to moral goods, which is its main limitation.

Foremost, the test of any idea is its outcomes. If an idea truly is good, then it should achieve its outcomes efficiently and effectively. For example, if the outcome for feminism is to make women’s lives better, happier and to make women better respected in society, then we may judge the quality of this idea: feminism, by evaluating its ability to achieve these outcomes.

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On the most superficial analysis, this proves dismal for feminism. It does not achieve any of these outcomes and in fact makes life worse overall for women.

In order to be a good thinker, an individual must have the ability to see reality for what it is. Those who have been “ideologically captured” as Dan puts it, do not have this ability. Their emotional attachment to a particular ideology compells them to twist reality to fit their belief system rather than accept that their ideology is flawed. This is why Larry Elder, a prominent black speaker who supports right-wing ideas, is being castigated today as a white supremacist. The people who castigate him are so ideologically captured that they actually think a black man is advocating for genocide against his own kind before they entertain the idea that his opinions are based in reality and serve to help black people in America.

To change someone’s mind when they have been ideologically captured, one must first win their trust as someone who truly cares about them and has some legitimate relationship with them. Without this position of trust, they will rather believe your motives are malicious than that their idea of reality might be skewed. Once this position is secured, then you can have a conversation with them about outcomes. If you have the same goal outcomes, then you enter into a discussion about which methodology is most conducive to this goal.

This method also protects you from your own bias. If, in fact, the situation is that you have the bad idea about which methods best lead to the desired outcomes, they too will be exposed.

The reason why the outcomes based measure for the quality of an idea works best is that it is goal centred. The purpose of discerning good ideas from bad ones is indeed to fulfil certain goals.

Over the last decade or more, it has been consistently demonstrated that so-called “meat-head bros” are consistently right about everything from politics to relationships to nutrition. Whereas well educated dorks are consistently proven wrong but cannot accept reality as they quibble over p-values and meaningless appeals to authority. Their pride prevents them from perceiving reality and putting their ideas to the test against it.

There are two important reasons why Bros get it right so often. Firstly, their mind is healthier because their bodies are healthier. The brain is a part of the body but the mind that *thinks* is all over your body. As such, because Bros look after their bodies (and therefore their minds) better, it is better equipped to exercise the difficult logic required to understand second and third order consequences of the world.

Secondly, Bros, in their path to becoming Bros in the first place, had no choice but to come to terms with reality. Consistently. Ineluctably. If one wishes to gain physical strength and an ability to fight well, there is no way to cheat or bribe the ability. It cannot be faked or imitated. As such, Bros have understood already, at some fundamental level, that we cannot change reality to suit our ideology; it must always be the other way around.

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Bros, therefore, are the best at evaluating ideas and come to correct conclusions much sooner and more often than the “well educated”.

The limitation as I’ve mentioned, about this way of thinking, is that it has no fundamental moral system to measure outcomes against. Ideologies may be measured against outcomes but outcomes must be measured against moral systems.

For example, if someone’s outcome is to make pedophilia legal, then all the endeavours of pride and trans acceptance in public schools could be considered “good methods” because they achieve the goal quite efficiently. This is an example of a method being efficiently good but not morally good.

The morally good cannot be detected, measured or discerned by reason alone. The Nous, the organ of the spiritual heart of a person that connects them with God is the thing that detects these moral standards. These standards are largely universal regardless of race, religion and creed.

All moral systems that claim to be secular have finger prints of religion and God all over them. There is NO SUCH THING as a secular moral system because truly secular systems can function only on reason. Reason alone cannot lead to good because reason can be reasoning toward evil, or reasoning toward good. There is no secular system to tell us about “ought” or “virtue”.

There are many other components to the logical framework. One of these is judging motivations. Not everyone is pure hearted. In fact, very few people are. It is the nature of human beings to be deceptive--part of the fallenness I suppose. This means that when we receive a piece of information, we must appraise the motivations behind the messenger. What are his/her motivations? If they align with yours, their information is more likely to be trustworthy or at least beneficial for you in so far as the goal goes.

Another way to judge the information someone gives you is if they respect you. No one who respects you will ever lie to you, not even “for your own well being” because they will respect your strength to be able to take it. Indeed, it is never truth that harms a person, but rather the betrayal that is revealed. It is worse when it is self-betrayal because there is no outside person to blame.

If you believed something for a ling time and even tied your identity to it, you may face nothing short of an existential crisis when you face the reality and have to reconstruct your identity. This is what stings: not the truth itself, but the betrayal it reveals.

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Data never lies. Different contexts can make the same set of data look different. All data always leads to the truth because data comes from reality and reality is run by the iron law of truth. Humanity’s proclivity toward deception is yet another law of the world. It too is a truth we must navigate.

Two different scientific papers may present conflicting stories about reality, making it seem as though the truth does not exist, only perspective does. However this is a poisonous psychological operation of the enlightenment. The englightenment relies on this idea because if there is no objective truth, only perspective then the ideas it puts out can never be properly tested and thus proved incorrect. Unfortunately, reality does not go away when we close our eyes and pretend it’s not there.

Two different papers may present different conclusions to the same question but this is only because they misrepresent the data. They are usually NOT in fact asking the same question. A study that shows the Covid Vaccine is perfectly safe for pregnant mothers and another might show that they cause 80% of pregnant women to have miscarriages. This might be confusing because it seems that they are opposing each other. In fact, if you look more closely, you might find that the first study only looked at mothers who got the vaccine near the end of the pregnancy whereas the second study included women who got it in the beginning. This would mean that the two papers were asking two completely different questions. One asked “is the vaccine harmful to women in the last trimester of the pregnancy” and the other asked “is the vaccine harmful to women early on in the pregnancy”.

Furthermore, if you examine the studies more closely, you might find that the first study only measured whether the babies were born alive and not how many had birth defects or health problems that appeared six months later. So in reality they asked “does the vaccine when delivered later in a pregnancy affect the rate of live births of children"?”

Always look at the data first and then go back and write out the question that the data can *actually* answer.

Bad ideas always have consequences. The descendants of the enlightenment merely offload these consequences onto the individual as “mental health issues” rather than take responsibility for cultivating an insalubrious culture. The woman who is depressed an anxious in her 40s will be encouraged to seek help for “her chemical imbalances” rather than escape a culture that tells her that career and material achievements are superior to building family and relationships.

The young man who want to commit suicide, is told there is something wrong with him and certainly not with a culture that castigates him for not behaving like a woman and isolates him from male friends and true achievement, selling him video games and weed instead.

“Mental health” is the enlightenment offloading the consequences of promulgating ideas that are incongruent with reality, onto the average person. Of course the best response is to run with this and completely reject enlightenment ideas altogether.

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An idea’s congruency with reality is the only metric that matters. All the heuristics I enumerate here and what other good writers may do elsewhere are simply different ways to measure an idea’s congruence with reality.

This concept is often shortened by internet flaneurs as “Lindy”. People love to give their own unique name to already existing things and claim it’s a new idea. It isn’t. IN reality, the only time you actually “name” something new is when you have grouped something in a new way. All names are grouping decisions. The word “face” is a grouping decisions for the front of your head. It is distinguished from “head” which includes you face, and “eyes” which do not include the whole face but just a part of it. This applies to every single noun in every single language.

Lindy is just another way of saying “the test of time”. Black pill is just another way of saying “despair”. Chad is just another way of saying “virtuous and confident man”.

For something to stand the test of time means that the idea has been tested against reality enough times that it is now reliable. Examples include eating raw meat. This is a practice that has been done by many cultures for thousands of years and even today, those who practice it live very long and healthy lives. Whereas veganism has never been practiced historically by any human society for an extended period of time and therefore fails the test against reality over time. Not Lindy.

Ideas are maps that help us navigate the world. The utility of an idea can be measured by how well it helps us navigate the real world. Running around with an inaccurate map will lead us to fall in ditches and over cliffs that could have been avoided.

You can try out a piece of the map yourself to see if it is accurate, or you can watch other people try it out and learn, or you can take the map that has worked for all your ancestors so far. This is the essence of how to think properly: how to build a good map of reality.

Thank you for reading :)

Videos

1. Epistemology 9/4
(Nathaniel Boggs)
2. Facts, Post-Truth and Epistemology | Åsa Wikforss
(The Institute of Art and Ideas)
3. Epistemology
(Siren)
4. Heart is Not a Pump? Pt. 2: How Do We Know What We Know / Epistemology
(Classic of Difficulties — Dr. James Mohebali)
5. Epistemology: Richard Rorty's Neopragmatism and a Postmodern Philosophy of Truth
(Prof G)
6. African Studies Global Virtual Forum: Decoloniality and Southern Epistemologies–Kohn & Povinelli
(PSU African Studies)

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