William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

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Do I Exist?(Does Russia) Part II — Guest Post by Ianto Watt

p2

Read Part I here.

So God has already acted. There is no potentiality left in Him, as Aquinas would say. After all, He’s already done everything. There’s nothing left to do, except to cheer on His team. And since He’s also the Ref, we know how this is going to turn out. The previous play is NOT under further review. The ruling on the field stands.

But we have many actions left to us, hopefully. We and our descendants as well. And all of our acts will have a cosmic meaning and atomic weight. And therein lies the answer of how this will involve Russia. Because, after all, Russia up till now has been passive. She’s been passive ever since Gregory of Palamas re-wrote the doctrines of the Orthodox East. Oremus.

And how did Gregory do this? By saying that being was greater than acting. Actually, he even went further, and said there is no need for action at all. All that was good for a man was to be in the presence of God. And in fact, he said all that was best was to be in this same presence. And, well, there was this little caveat he gave that made me wonder about all of this. He said it wasn’t in the actual presence of God. It was in the presence of His Energon (energies). That is to say, in the presence of The Uncreated Light. And that little asterisk made me wonder. A lot. For a long time. Just who was it that guaranteed that this Uncreated Light was actually emanating from the ‘presence of God’? Will this be a class-action suit if they’re wrong? Do we have to get our own attorney? Huh?

So the thing that has always bothered me (and Solovyev too, evidently) is that this basking in the Uncreated Light requires no action. It only requires being. But that’s God’s gig, right? But our role, as finite beings, is to act. We’re supposed to act good. Good acts, as in good works, right? After all, faith without works is dead, eh? (James 2: 14-26.) Is there any other way to understand this saying? Without killing the semantic basis of language, that is? Forget Noam Chomsky.

Well, okay you say, so what? Simply this: if this is the official doctrine of Orthodoxy, what does all of this imply? It means that words speak louder than actions. Specifically, the words of The Jesus Prayer. It goes like this: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner’.

And just what is the purpose of this prayer, and who does it benefit? What could be wrong with this prayer? Why, nothing, nothing at all. But this prayer, repeated endlessly, is the Orthodox-recommended means of achieving the state true enlightenment. The Hesychastic state of Divine Bliss. The highest state a human can achieve here on earth. At least, according to the doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Church. So, all we have to do is to chant ‘Om, Om, Om…’? Hypnotism, in other words. Chant anything, long enough, and it becomes the mantra. And that is the doorway to self-hypnosis. Which is what we are actually talking about here in the matter of Hesychasm. Self-hypnosis, which leads to self-paralysis. Which leads to nowhere. Why? Because we aren’t trying to get anywhere. We’re already there. Don’t bother me, I’m busy. Om, Oom, Oooom…

So forget the Good Samaritan. Forget the Roman Centurion. Forget the Good Shepherd. Forget all of them and all their good acts. That’s not important. The important thing, from the Orthodox point of view, is to be. To be in the presence of God (or at least, His ‘energies’). That’s what counts. That’s all that counts. And if that means that nothing practical gets done (because they’re too busy basking in the light), then so be it. Amen, brother. Who needs to dig that well? Who needs to build that wall? Who needs to feed those hungry, and clothe those naked ones? Who needs to do anything? But make sure dinner is ready when I’m hungry, eh? Call me anything but late for dinner.

And now you can see why Russia has been so passive. Passive in the face of everything the rational West and the mystical East have thrown at them for over 500 years. Because for over 500 years Russia has been in thrall to the mystic misery of Mt. Athos and her pious paralysis. A paralysis that has gloried in the idea that she, and she alone, has been the sole repository of the True Faith. The last redoubt of belief. A belief that did not require her to act. And the proof of that belief was that she, and she alone, was in the presence of God. Can’t you see how obvious this is, Komrade?

But all of that has now changed. And no, the change is not recent. The change began around 1840, according to Nikolai Berdyaev. So who is Berdyaev? He is the man who wrote a book entitled The Russian Idea. Yes, that title seems familiar to those who know me. But that’s because that title was originally used by Solovyev. Nikolai Berdyaev was a student of his, and he wrote a follow-on to Solovyev’s work, using the same title. But that’s another story. The story here is that Vladimir Putin has instructed his regional governors (in 2015) to read another of Berdyaev’s works entitled The Philosophy of Inequality. So evidently someone thinks Berdyaev’s important. Important to Russians, at least. And that should interest us. And why is that? Well, do you want to know what is coming ’round the bend?

And so, the reason for mentioning Berdyaev here, for my purposes, is that he talks about actions. The actions of Russians, in particular. And specifically, those Russians who have awoken from the Orthodox Dream-State. Because those were the only ones who could move, and take action. And he catalogues them all. From Gogol onwards, he takes the scalpel to each significant actor upon the Russian stage as he autopsies each of them and their actions. He examines each of the actors that have awakened from the Orthodox slumber. And like anyone awakening from a deep sleep, Russia begins to move sporadically, spasmodically. Because she is not fully awake yet. But she is no longer asleep. And so, the question becomes, as she abandons her simplicity of somnolent being, how will she act once she is fully awake?

And the answer to that question is obvious for all to see. If only we will see it. Because ever since that time (circa 1840’s) Russia has been moving in every direction except one. The one direction she will not move. And we’ll get to that in a bit. But in the interim, the characters in Berdyaev’s book have moved in every other possible direction. Both East and West. And each of these movements has sprung from the guilty conscience of the middle and upper classes of Russia. And why do they feel guilty? Because they have all, in some fashion, repudiated their Orthodoxy. And the name for the common root of all of these movements is Narodnik.

The Narodniks were the revolutionaries who created the origins of both the nihilists and the socialists in Russia. Of both Eastern and Western flavors and hues. And all of these resulting movements (and their resultant actions) centered around the idealization of the Narods. The people of Russia. Which is to say, the serfs. And to really understand this situation, Solovyev recommends that we read Beaulieu and his history of Russia. And I agree. The eye of the foreigner is so much better at discerning the truth of the matter.

So the root of this revolutionary Narodnik guilt was this; these well-to-do members of the intelligentsia, who had lost their Orthodox faith, substituted the people of the Russian homeland for the God of their fathers. And why not? The Narodniks despised the inertness of Orthodoxy, and they were right to do so. But they had to worship something, right? After all, that is what men do. They worship something. That’s what sets them apart from the animal kingdom, correct? Anybody seen a possum at Mass lately? Have you been to Mass lately?

And so, the question amongst these nascent Narodniks became a question of ‘what shall we worship’? And thus they began the process of division. Whereas God has told us to be fruitful, and multiply. And so the fragmentation began. Bakunin said the individual was foremost, as he became the father of the Anarchists. Lavrov said the solution lay in the state, becoming the father of the Socialist/Marxists. And everything degenerated from there. And the bottom line was this: the People of Russia became the God of Russia. Even though nobody bothered to ask the serfs what they thought about all of this navel-gazing. Because, in the final analysis, the serfs were orthodox to the core. And the serfs of Russia despised both flavors of this apotheosis known as Narodnichestvo.

Well then, where does this lead us? It leads us to today. Because in the interim, from 1840 till now, almost 200 years later, Russia has tried every variation, both liberal and revolutionary, in her attempt to take her rightful place upon the world stage. Every door but Peter’s. And because she could never agree, internally, as to her true essence, she has been unable to resist the West. Or the East. But one thing has changed, and that is this: Russia is now awakened. And she is finally becoming fully lucid. No, I’m not claiming that she is sane. I’m simply saying that she has finally made up her mind. And she has reached this point by the painful process of elimination. She has rejected the East and all of her mysticism. And she has rejected the West and all of their rationalism and pseudo-empiricism. So that leaves the only other choice. Triumph. To triumph over both the East and the West. And it must be the triumph of truth. The truth as she sees it, of course. And how does she see it? She sees it through the eyes of the last Old True Believers.

Think I’m kidding here? I’m not. Don’t listen to me. Listen to the man Vlad Putin listens to: Alexander Dugin. ┬áListen to Dugin, an Old Believer, and tell me that Russians today don’t think that their time is at hand. Tell me that the Russians don’t think that the purpose of their awakening from the Orthodox slumber of Hesychasm is some random, meaningless happening. Tell me that the Russians do not see that the world is in need of their salvific vision. And that now is the time for them to act. Because if they do not act now, the entire world will be lost. Don’t believe me? Then listen to Patriarch Kyrill. Read his words as he describes all of the evils that await the world if they do not accept the orthodoxy of Orthodoxy.

And so here is where we are at today; Russia has rejected capitalism, especially the recent version foisted upon her by the rapacious West. She has also rejected the vision of salvation through revolution. Revolutions never build anything, they only tear things down. Vlad has had enough of that. And Russia has also rejected the idealization of the Proletariat Masses. Conversely, she has also rejected as well the idea that individuality will lead her to freedom, economically as well as spiritually. And so what is left to her but her self-identity? And just what is that identity? Her hyper-nationalistic Orthodoxy. And doesn’t this hyper-nationality always mean war? A war to impose her will upon both East and West? A war to correct the errors of each? A war that will finally exalt the Slavic People to their ‘rightful’ place in salvation history. Big war. But hopefully not in the way we think of war. Hopefully.

Huh? What do I mean? Aren’t I talking about bang-bang war? Well, yes. And no. Yes, but only to the extent we force Vlad to do it. Yes, if we continue to try and expand NATO to the very doorstep of Moscow. Or at least Borodino. And yes, if we continue trying to drive Russia into eternal poverty. But even if we were to stop those actions, and even if we rolled back the last 30 years of incremental Imperial hubris, Russia would still have a problem with the Empire. A moral problem. A problem with the morality (or lack thereof) of the Empire. A problem of Orthodox self-righteousness. And this Russian disgust of the moral laxity of the West will insure that the war will come. And so, even if the overt military encroachments of the West were to stop, Russia is going to strike back, now that she has awakened. And she will prefer to do it with asymmetrical force. Force that need not necessarily be measured in megatons. But force nonetheless. And if need be, she has plenty of megatons as well. And her’s are all fresh.

But is that what we in the West want? Regardless of whether or not we think we can win such a match, is this truly what we want? Can this confrontation be averted? Do we want to avert it? What would we be willing to do to avoid this catastrophe? And after all, if the reason for this coming war, in the eyes of the Russians, is that the West is pushing her trans-blendered, aborto-facient, multi-kulti politically-correct corruption upon them, what is our answer to them? Can we deny the Rot of The Empire? Just look at the candidates we have to choose from and tell me we have any moral credibility. Can we honestly say we are the embodiment of the good? Do you really believe this? Really?

And so then, to me, the question is not ‘how will Russia act‘? That’s beside the point. They will have to answer for their own actions. And so will we. The real question we have to face now, as Solvyev would say, is simply this; what is it that we are becoming? Are we becoming better? Or is the West becoming worse? According to who’s standard? The Empire’s standard? Regardless of your answer to that last question, let me ask you this, my friend: are you willing to fight for that standard? To fight to the death for the right to use any bathroom? Really? Well, you may just get your chance. Welcome to the Army of One, citizen. What gender designation do you claim?

Doubting The New EM Drive Results

Figure 19, from the paper.

Figure 19, from the paper.

Heard of the EM Drive? EM is for electromagnetic. The idea is that, in an enclosed cone, some microwaves are bounced around, and that this bouncing somehow propels the cone, and presumably whatever is attached to it, forward.

Nothing comes out of the cone, mind. There is no propellant. The cone is sealed tight.

So how does it push, when nothing pushes back against it? As one popular article put it, the EM Drive appears to violate Newton’s third law, which is for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In the EM Drive, there is an action but no apparent reaction. Conservation of momentum is no more. Apparently.

Another name for the machine is the RF resonant cavity thruster. A version of it was put to the test recently by NASA. And it seemed to work.

I have doubts.

The paper (which is free to read) is “Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacuum” by Harold White, Paul March, James Lawrence, Jerry Vera, Andre Sylvester, David Brady, and Paul Bailey in the Journal of Propulsion and Power.

You have to read the paper for the introduction and apparatus and experimental description (there is no reason to repeat it here). Many readers of this blog won’t have trouble understanding the gist.

Wrong regression

Finished reading the paper? Let’s jump to the end.

Figure 19 is the summary of results of the tests of the forward and reverse thrust vacuum testing. The large, original version should be consulted instead of the smaller image which leads this post.

Power was varied and force estimated. The red circles are the results of the estimates of force from individual experiments at the given power levels. The purple circles/lines are only averages and can be ignored. A (dashed gray) line was over-plotted, the result of a linear regression of power and estimated force. Technically (and you can ignore this point), the uncertainty in the estimated force should be used in the regression, but it’s not clear they did this. That means the gray line, and subsequent equation Force = 1.16843 x Power will be too certain.

Skip the technicalities and notice something more important. The red circles at powers of about 40 W are tightly clustered and indicate a low level of estimated force. The red circles at powers of about 60 W are much more variable, but do indicate some (not all) higher levels of estimated force. But the red circles at 80-85 W look to be about the same, with a tad less variability, than the estimated forces at 60 W.

In other words, it appears as if the estimated forces tails off, or plateaus after 60 W. Might the estimated force jump or increase again at, say, 200 W or greater? Sure. It might do anything. But all we have is the data in front of us. And from that, it looks like it levels off.

If that is so—and I emphasize I am only guessing—then there are two things to consider. The first is that the equation reported by the authors of 1.2 ± 0.1 mN/kW isn’t quite right and is far too optimistic. If the force plateaus, then the better statistical estimate of force is roughly 100 micro-Newtons for powers greater than 60 W (with some plus and minus), which is at best more than 10 times smaller than the forces estimated by the regression. (The regression is also optimistic, because power levels didn’t even reach 100 W, let alone kilo-watts.)

But so what. 100 micro-Newtons is still greater than 0 Newtons, and any force north of 0 proves the concept of the EM drive.

That’s brings us to the second consideration. That leveling off casts suspicion that a form of energy leakage has not been identified. We’d expect greater thrust with greater power levels, but we didn’t see it, which is evidence, but far from conclusive evidence, that something has been missed. We’re talking estimated micro-Newtons here, so it wouldn’t take much leakage to provide the thrusts seen.

Now the force is estimated (via a chain of inference) at first via aluminum electrostatic fins, so it looks like leakage of magnetic field from the cone wouldn’t effect these; but where the aluminum connects, at the circuitry, there could have been induced fields (or maybe the aluminum was dirty or dusty?). And that’s just one of many places to look. But there’s no point me going over possibilities. Let somebody who is better do it. (Perhaps you?)

Error sources

I found this to be the most fascinating part of the paper. The authors took leakage seriously and went to great pains to measure potential errors. But from the language describing some of the sources, you have to wonder if a wee bit of over-confidence snuck in.

The second error is RF interaction with the surrounding environment, which has the potential for possible RF patch charging on the walls of the vacuum chamber interacting with the test article to cause displacement of torsion pendulum. Leaking RF fields are kept very low by ensuring RF connections are tight and confirmed by measuring with an RF leakage meter (levels are kept below a cell phone RF leakage level). Any wall interaction needs to be a well-formed resonance coupling and, because of the high frequency, will be highly sensitive to geometry.

Keeping the RF test article on resonance inside of the frustum volume requires a phase-locked loop system to maintain resonance as the test article expands during operation, so it is not likely that the RF test article can establish and maintain an effective external RF resonance. [Paragraph break mine.]

Well, it’s true at these frequencies geometry is important (ask anybody who builds antennas for gigahertz signals), it’s also true these same RF signals show up in the damnedest places. I merely mention this as one example of how one can fool oneself.

To the stars!

I’d be thrilled to learn my doubts were baseless, or were quibbles, and the EM drive worked. But there are more doubts about how the EM drive is supposed to work. Quantum mechanical pilot-waves. If you don’t know about these, you’ll have to wait for another day. But the authors appear to mix up, as most do, what is from our knowledge of what is, of the ontic with the epistemic, with ontology and epistemology. I’ll save those criticisms, because what is above is enough for now.

Update Forbes is talking about it, and so are others.

Summary Against Modern Thought: Aristotle vs Averroes On The Intellect & Soul

This may be proved in three ways. The first...

This may be proved in three ways. The first…

See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

We’re still on makeup and workings of the intellect and soul. A blessing this week: a short chapter! And an easy one at that; some points of disagreement between Aquinas and Aristotle and the Islamic scholar Averroes are cleared up.

Chapter 61 That this theory is contrary to the teaching of Aristotle (alternate translation) We’re using the alternate translation this week.

1 Averroes, however, attempts to strengthen his position by appealing to authority, saying, therefore, that Aristotle was of the same opinion. We shall, then, show clearly that Averroes’ doctrine is contrary to that of Aristotle.

2 First, because Aristotle in De anima II [1] defines the soul as “the first act of an organic physical body having life potentially”; and he adds that this definition “applies universally to every kind of soul”; nor, as Averroes imagines, does Aristotle express any doubt concerning this definition. The Greek texts, as well as Boethius’ translation, give clear proof of this.

3 And afterwards in the same chapter, Aristotle remarks that “certain parts of the soul are separable.” But these are no other than intellective parts. Hence, it remains that these parts are acts of the body.

Notes And the intellective parts are immaterial.

4 Nor is this point contradicted by what Aristotle says later on, namely: “Nothing is clear as yet about the intellect and the power of insight, but it seems to be another kind of soul” [II, 1] For Aristotle does not mean by this to exclude the intellect from the common definition of soul, but from the nature proper to the other parts of the soul; thus, he who says that “the flying animal is of another kind than the walking” does not exclude the former from the common definition of animal.

So, in order to explain what he meant by saying another, Aristotle immediately adds: “And this alone is capable of separate existence, as the everlasting apart from the perishable.”

Nor is it Aristotle’s intention, as Averroes imagines, to say that, in contrast with the clear knowledge which we have concerning the other parts of the soul, it is not yet clear whether the intellect is the soul. The genuine text does not read, nothing has been declared, or nothing has been said, but nothing is clear; and this must be taken to refer to that which is proper to the intellective soul, and not to the common definition. But if, as Averroes says, soul is predicated equivocally of the intellect and of other souls, then Aristotle would first have pointed out the equivocation, and given the definition afterwards, in keeping with his usual procedure. Otherwise, his argument would have been based on an equivocation, and in demonstrative science there is no room for that sort of thing.

5 Moreover, Aristotle in De anima II [3] reckons the intellect among the powers of the soul; and in the text previously quoted he calls it the power of insight. Therefore, the intellect is not outside the human soul, but is one of its powers.

Notes And reason another; but “reason is an imperfection of intelligence.” We wouldn’t have to reason if we already knew, as God does, and as angels do (some things).

6 And when in that same work Aristotle begins his discussion of the possible intellect by speaking of it as “the part of the soul with which the soul has knowledge and wisdom” [III, 4], he thus plainly indicates that the possible intellect is a part of the soul.

7 Aristotle indeed makes this point still more explicit when he explains later on what the nature of the possible intellect is: “By the intellect,” he says, “I mean that by which the soul judges and understands” [III, 4]. This makes it perfectly clear that the intellect is that part of the human soul by which it understands.

8 The Averroistic position in question is, then, contrary to the opinion of Aristotle and to the truth, and is to be rejected therefore as sheer fiction.

The Full Briggs?

Stolen from the site yardsaleofthemind.wordpress.com

Stolen from the site yardsaleofthemind.wordpress.com

Our friend Joseph Moore at Yard Sale of the Mind, a site surely on everybody’s list already, whose photograph appears atop this post, wrote

It doesn’t get much more civilized than that! I’d say fine coffee, a tasty pastry and a good book — and a nice hat (1)- represent an apex of culture just below a Latin High Mass in a great cathedral.

Hear him! Everybody who is anybody is reading Uncertainty: The Soul of Modeling, Probability & Statistics. Some (me) are even saying it makes the ideal Christmas gift.

The (1) represented a footnote, which was this:

Nearly had the Full Briggs going: I’d put on a tie, grabbed a jacket and a hat, because the next thing I’d be doing after the race was gathering up the rest of the family and heading off to Mass, and I need the hat to keep my bald head warm. The Full Briggs, as I understand it (and, being a Californian, I may be incapable of truly appreciating it) is for grown men to wear a suit, tie and hat as default clothing, only deigning to dress otherwise for specific purposes, such as if one were a professional wrestler or astronaut or something. As a native Californian who grew up amidst surfers and welders, my reaction to this could be summed as: Whoa. Dude. Those noir shamuses do look pretty natty, I must confess.

This is a fair, but incomplete, representation of The Full Briggs. Suits are recommended, yes; but it’s not suits per se, but the jacks-slacks-tie-hat combo that provides balance and luster to a gentleman’s existence. Ties are not de rigueur unless in a suit, but they’re highly recommended especially when the temperatures drops below 90 F. (That’s not a misprint: 90 F, 32 C.)

Men, can you imagine the figure you’d cut in a comfortable jacket, devil-may-care tie, loosely knotted, even old, even wrinkled pants and shoes (the species pants do not include jeans, and shoes do not mean sneakers), a battered fedora or wool cap, sitting in a café or on a park bench reading the Book of the Year? Your wives, if you have them, will have to stand guard over you to keep the philosophy groupies at bay. And if you’re not married, well, here is the ultimate mate bait.

Beats a cute dog. And you don’t have clean up after Uncertainty.

Incidentally, you don’t have to sit. Unlike some ponderous philosophical tomes, Uncertainty was designed to be light, refreshing, short—and true. This means you can, and should, carry it with you wherever you go. Being seen carrying it is the surest path to advancement.

If somebody asks you what’s so special about the book, you can quip, “Die p-value, die die die” (the title of one section). Nothing beats a conversation about these undead scourges of statistics. Or you can say “Everybody believes hypothesis tests prove cause, even when they say they don’t believe it; if they really didn’t believe it, they’d never use another hypothesis test for the rest of their lives.”

And there are many more possibilities. Too many to list! Do what Joseph did. Do The Full Briggs!

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