Subject: Re: Difference between LISP and C++ From: Erik Naggum <email@example.com> Date: 29 Oct 2002 15:57:50 +0000 Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> * arien <email@example.com> | I have always believed, that if someone has to defend themselves, then | they mustn't be particularly confident about themselves or their | position.... Yet you keep arguing that you had to defend yourself when you thought I implied that you were "dumb" and that you had no choice, and you go on "defending" yourself long after you (claim to) have put the offender in your kill-file. This must mean -- tada! -- that you really are dumb and feel you must fight tooth and nail to keep anyone from realizing it, which it would take /several/ miracles to avoid at this point. | So why is it that the people here have to defend lisp so vehemently? It | sounds to me like Lisp is in a precarious position if lispers must attack | anyone who so much as accidently suggests that there is something wrong | as lisp. Now you are just being dumb, again. | Some of my posts should even have been taken light-heartedly, but yet | lispers can't seem to do that. Yet you publicly admit to not getting at least one joke, and the number of humorous references that fly by you like migratory birds is enormous, a clear indication that your mental capacity is also heading south. I am amazed by the resilience of the very unintelligent. One must wonder what such energy could have produced had it been offered in conjunction with a healthy mind, but premature certainty is a byproduct of not getting the message. The more you understand, the better your capacity to realize that the world is more complex than one's understanding of it. I have come to wonder just how much information a self-aware system needs before it realizes that what is has become aware of from its surroundings is not the whole story. Some believe that self-awareness simply happens when a sufficiently large number of connections is made in something like the brain. But what needs to take place before the self-aware system realizes that the information it has collected and the conclusions it has reached /may not be sufficient/ and that new data could /surprise/ the system by offering unexpected data that /could/ alter its conclusions? The research into human stupidity is looking for a definition of what it actually is that makes people stupid (not the same as unintelligent). I think I have a definition: Stupidity is the premise that the information gathered and the conclusions reached so far are /sufficient/ and that no further information-gathering or thinking needs to take place before you act on a "mental model" of the world. The switch from observing reality and letting it have the last say if you think differently to judging it to be /wrong/ if it differs from your "mental model", that is the precise moment of stupidity. /Thinking/ conversely occurs when the input from the world around you takes precedence over your "mental model". The one thing that stupid people (people who habitually act as if they know reality better than reality) do not do is consider the possibility that they could be wrong, that something out there needs attention and even scrutiny because it looks out of place. The failure to pay attention is a major part of the problem, but not all. Even if they noticed that something was amiss, the stupid person would claim that the world is unknowable, anyway, and this goes to prove it. Should /people/ fail to do exactly as they predict, they will act in such a manner as to encourage them to act the way they have predicted instead of listening to what they actually do. In the terminology of behaviorists, stupid people reinforce only what they expect and ignore everything else, and if this does not yield the expected responses, either, the stupid person acts even more stupidly in order to fulfill their predictions. The stupid person is the person who responds to a large number of signals that could be interpreted many ways with "I told you so!" because he has ignored the unexpected, whereas the thinking person is the person who looks at exactly the same signals and responds with "hm... that's odd..." because he has ignored the expected. The stupid person is the person who looks at something he does not understand and "knows what it will do" and does not even try it out because that is a waste of his time, while the thinking person is the person who looks at exactly the same thing with exactly the same understanding and goes "I wonder what this does?" Can a stupid person be made to think? I have long believed that if I give unthinking people with something contrary to their expectations, they might wake up and think -- and it works surprisingly often, but it is not the kind of thing that happens in public view. Thinking is a private activity, perhaps the most private activity there is. To the habitually non-thinking (a stupid person), that spark of thought is nigh invisible precisely because it is the unexpected. To the habitually thinking (a smart person), that spark of thought is precisely what they enjoy. The capacity to be surprised is therefore connected to your ability to deal with a world that is /not/ entirely expected. The smart person regards the unexpected as intriguing, the stupid person regards it as confusing. It is hard to notice all the unexpected things and I suspect that it is so hard that it requires a lot more intelligence and brain capacity than we humans are equipped with from the start, which means that it will be impossible for us to ever get rid of lapses of sufficient thought, errare humanum est, because the volume of information we need to process in order to make the smart decision exceeds our capacity. This is how I would connect "intelligent" and "smart": Intelligence is the capacity, while smart or dumb is the degree of utilization. A person of low capacity utilized at its fullest is in some ways indistinguishable from a person of high capacity utilized minimally. Therefore, a person of modest intellectual means is considered "stupid" because of the visible failure to gather information and reach conclusions with the requried speed, but the smart/stupid axis really is fundamentally different from the intelligence axis. In recent (real-world) news here in Norway, a moderately retarded mother was denied the right to care for her own children and the government wanted to take them away from her and the psychotic, drug-addicted and violent father. She had been IQ-tested on the WAIS scale and scored 53. There was, for some reason I cannot possibly relate to, a public outcry. Old teachers and "friends" and a sundry corral of ludicrous people spoke up in the media, admitting that "she sure is slow, but", while the social services office in the community got hate mail and death threats from other retarded people who obviously had no concern for the children. Now, the crux of the argument was that she had previously tested 74 on an IQ test. What could have accounted for the incredible drop? The really amazing thing, and which made me laugh out loud, was that those who wanted to reunite the innocent children with these clearly unfit parents tried to argue that this retarded woman had been under a lot of pressure and had her sick child with her to the IQ test, thinking that this should have been ameliorating or at least mitigating, instead /proved/ that her IQ dropped 20 points when she had to perform tasks of mild to moderate intellectual complexity while tending to her children. The tester was "surprised" to see that the test was given such weight in the outcome of the decision, but if /anything/ could show that a person would be an unfit mother, it is the inability to deal with many tasks simulataneously. It is in fact not uncommon for the IQ of mothers to /increase/ dramatically after giving birth precisely because mothering is such a tremendously difficult task and requires so much more of the woman than ordinary daily life. Some estimate the natural increase for someone around the IQ=100 norm to be as much as 15 IQ points, or one standard deviation. If, under such a situation, the IQ instead dropped by 20 points, the retarded unfit mother's IQ dropped 35 points under stress and simulataneous intellectual stimuli. If there ever were a good reason to take children away from their parents, the very people who tried to defend her provided the best evidence there could be! Such is the life of unintelligent and stupid people. If it were not for the poor chidren involved in this squabble and the chance that they could be returned to these idiot parents, this would be a tremendously funny story. Back in our pig-pen, we have some people whose intelligence also drops a standard deviation or more when they are under intense pressure to prove that they were not stupid by showing us how well they function when they are not thinking, but occasionally people grow a clue real quick and show themselves to be a credit to the human race. Invariably, and I mean this in the most specific sense, they get on with what they came here for. The first and probably best sign of a thinking mind under pressure is that it focuses on its actual purposes and applies concentration to understand what went on. Absent whining, absent victimization, absent insults, they turn to do exactly what they said they would to begin with. Momentarily derailed if at all, they get back on track entirely on their own and apply themselves to accomplish something useful to themselves. Many in this category of great people write me personally and thank me for specific advice or for helping them or for /listening/ to them, which is one of the rarest activities you find anywhere today. Some people have posted here about how they have been encouraged in their continued attacks directed at me by other retarded lunatics and claim they fight something they consider worthy because stupid people feel hurt and instead of encouraging them to think, feel they should validate stupidity. My reward for the work I actually do for people here is that I have caused people to /think/ about something they had not otherwise thought about and people give me very valuable ideas and suggestions in return. To the credit of the people who "side" with me, I have /never/ been encouraged in any fight against human stupidity. This is no doubt incomprehensible to the people who need encouragement to be as evil as they have been, but there is one point of crucial difference: I fight /for/ the ability and the freedom to think, while these lunatics who gang up on me fight /against/ the freedom to speak up against stupidity. (They could perhaps fight for the right to be stupid, but I kind of doubt that anyone would actually admit that.) I do consider stupidity to the worst of all possible human flaws and the root cause of evil. I see the lack of pressure to think in schools, or in society in general, to be the most dangerous development in modern society, and I believe that those who "learn" to habitually avoid thinking turn to braindead violence and destruction, instead. We see enough of that on this newsgroup, too. -- Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway Act from reason, and failure makes you rethink and study harder. Act from faith, and failure makes you blame someone and push harder.