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Summary Against Modern Thought: There Is A Hierarchy Of Intellect

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There is a natural ordering of intellectual abilities, in us and in angels.


1 Since certain intellectual creatures are higher than others, as is clear from the foregoing, the lower ones of an intellectual nature must be governed by the higher ones.

2 Again, more universal powers are able to move particular powers, as we said. But the higher intellectual natures have more universal forms, as was shown above. Therefore, they are capable of ruling the lower intellectual natures.

Notes This occurs in humans, too. But it is nothing to boast of. The more you are given, the greater your responsibility, and the greater your culpability when you fail.

3 Besides, an intellectual potency that is nearer to the principle is always capable of ruling an intellectual power that is more removed from the principle. This is evident in both speculative and active sciences; for a speculative science which derives its principles of demonstration from another science is said to be subalternated to that other; and an active science which is nearer the end, which is the principle in matters of operation, is architectonic in regard to a more distant one. Therefore, since some intellectual substances are nearer the first principle, namely God, as was shown in Book Two [95], they will be capable of ruling others.

4 Moreover, superior intellectual substances receive the influence of divine wisdom into themselves more perfectly, because each being receives something according to the being’s own mode. Now, all things are governed by divine wisdom. And so, things that participate more in divine wisdom must be capable of governing those that participate less. Therefore, the lower intellectual substances are governed by the higher ones.

5 Thus, the higher spirits are also called angels, because they direct the lower spirits, as it were, by bringing messages to them; in fact, angels are spoken of as messengers. And they are also called ministers, because they carry out by their operation the order of divine providence even in the area of bodily things. Indeed, a minister is “like a living instrument,” according to the Philosopher [Politics I, 4: 1253b 29]. So this is what is said in the Psalm (103:4): “You make your angels spirits, and your ministers a burning fire.”

The Week In Doom — You Will Love Butt Brother Edition

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Item Blurred lines: A pregnant man’s tragedy tests gender notions

When the man arrived at the hospital with severe abdominal pains, a nurse didn’t consider it an emergency, noting that he was obese and had stopped taking blood pressure medicines. In reality, he was pregnant — a transgender man in labor that was about to end in a stillbirth…

“The point is not what’s happened to this particular individual but this is an example of what happens to transgender people interacting with the health care system,” said the lead author, Dr. Daphna Stroumsa of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

“He was rightly classified as a man” in the medical records and appears masculine, Stroumsa said. “But that classification threw us off from considering his actual medical needs.”

The woman pretending to be a man was “rightly classified as a man” said the doctor. The doctor.

Well, some “doctors” execute their patients, either when the patients are coming or going, and still more mutilate their patients, as long as the patients request it—and can pay. And many more said eat margarine not butter, folks who also say “Yes” when a patient asks whether this new drug is right for them.

Current Year Hippocratic Oath: First check the zeitgeist.

It’s past time to stop the automatic respect given to a man who has “Dr” in front of his name.

Item Miami Springs Now Has Florida’s First Transgender Lutheran Pastor

On a recent Sunday in April, Rev. Kit Robison delivered a sermon about the commandment to love God and your neighbor as yourself. For a long time, Robison told parishioners, she struggled with the last part of that edict: to love herself.

At the end of the service, Robison called her wife, Christa, up to the pulpit. Then the pastor announced to the attendees of Grace Lutheran Church in Miami Springs that she is a transgender woman.

“What you see in front of you does not match my self-understanding,” she said. “In my self-understanding, I am a woman.”…

While some Christians believe being transgender goes against God’s word and biblical principles, Robison dismisses those notions and says her change is fully in accordance with God’s will.

“God does not make mistakes, and he didn’t make a mistake with me. God made me a transgender woman,” she says. “I now have the gift of knowing the experience of both my male and female church members, and I can minister better to both.”

God also made necrophiliacs, murderers, masturbators, and mimes. God doesn’t make mistakes!

The key line, ladies and gentlemen? In my self-understanding.

You are what you believe you are, and everybody else damn well agree. You, dear reader, must participate in whatever madness every fool invents. This is tyranny.

No, I mean it. Tyranny. Freedom is defined as being able to do what is right. Being forced to agree with what is false, as in tranny madness or gmarriage et cetera, is to do what is wrong under duress. In other words, tyranny.

Still not convinced? How about this next item?

Item ChristianMingle loses lawsuit, must now include gay singles, an online dating service for Christian singles, must start allowing people to seek out same-sex relationships under a judge-approved settlement.

ChristianMingle only required new users to specify whether they’re a man seeking a woman or a woman seeking a man. Two gay men filed class-actions claims against the site’s owner, California-based Spark Networks Inc., claiming that the site’s limited options violated California’s anti-discrimination law, The Wall Street Journal reported.

State law requires businesses to offer “full and equal” accommodations and services to people regardless of their sexual orientation.

Two narcissistic faqqots, who apparently did not even need the site’s services, decided to sue because they couldn’t bear to have anybody condemn their “lifestyle which will send them into everlasting punishment.

The saddest part of the story is the company submitted instead of closing down.

You will submit. You will bake the cake. You must love Butt brother.


Item Healthcare worker, 46, tied to a THOUSAND unexplained deaths of elderly patients in Texas is charged with smothering 12 women with a pillow

Demons are real. Not metaphorically real. Real real. Whether this man is obsessed our outright possessed, it is demonic.

Item Today’s image is from ModoBag, the final and complete proof of our doom. It is luggage on which you can ride through the airport.

Six Thousand Years Of History

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If you ask a physicist “Why can’t objects go faster than light? That there should be a limit doesn’t seem right to me”, he will abuse you.

He’ll start off by calling you an idiot, move to questioning your ancestry, accuse you of spreading error, denounce you as heretic; he will gather his colleagues to gaze at the strange spectacle which is you. He will belittle, bemoan, and besmirch. You will count yourself lucky if he doesn’t track down your employer and have you fired.

No. Of course not. If you question the speed of light any physicist will, if he has the time, explain as best as he can to the level of your understanding. If you don’t go away convinced, he may blame himself for being a poor communicator, or he may blame you for being thick. But he won’t hate your guts, suspect you of vile motives, and demand your views be suppressed.

Yet question him about the age of the universe, saying you think those creationists might be on to something with their theory of a young earth, and everything said above goes. Get ready for heat! The same or worse treatment awaits the poor soul questioning evolution of a biologist; whereas that same biologist will treat gently another who, say, thinks plants can understand human language.

The reason for the differences is obvious. Question a matter that can’t easily be tied to Christianity, and it’s intellectual tea-time, pinkies raised in politeness and everything. But bring up something that might support Christian religion and the cloven hoof appears. (That line courtesy of PG Wodehouse.)

This is a weakness. After all, the physicist and biologist may be missing something in their own beliefs, even if those beliefs are more-or-less true. It’s clear to most, especially those who teach, that explaining fundamentals to doubters often brings greater insight and deeper understanding to the teacher.

So let’s be nice as we question two unquestionable beliefs. Or actually only one, which acceptance causes a second to be false.

Thus let us all suppose the earth is young. Few thousand years old, top. I admit up front I doubt this and would bet against it. But some with better minds than mine believe it (listen to this lecture starting at about 35 minutes), and out of respect we’ll see what’s the best case that can be made.

The reason for the belief is, as suspected, Biblical. A simple reading and piecing together of ages, dates, and things like that comes to a figure of about 6,000 years old, plus or minus, a time made famous by Irish Archbishop James Ussher. The six days of creation were six days, not metaphors for certain lengths of time (which other Christians believe, such as Peter Kreeft; see this video starting about 30 minutes).

Now if the young earth is true—which you will recall we are here accepting—many things follow. Foremost is that evolution is chucked out. Evolution, we are told, works over long periods. Six thousand years is not long enough for neo-Darwinian evolution to function.

It had to be instead, as the Bible says, God created all creatures, dinosaurs to bacteria, in their form all at once at the beginning. Well, and this has to be so even if the earth is ancient. This is the argument of Dominique Tassot, Hugh Owen, and Peter Wilder in their paper “Creation and Time“.

To believe in evolution (some theory of it) is thus to make an error. Evolution is the creation of a new species from an old. Yet a giraffe cannot procreate a thing that is not a giraffe. It can procreate a sub-optimal or damaged giraffe, perhaps because of a genetic mutation. But its mutant progeny will still be a giraffe. If evolution were to be true, it would have to be that the progeny is of an different essence, i.e. a different species, than its parent.

That might make sense for man making a machine, a thing that has a different use than man, but it does not make sense for snails making other snails, or not-snails. To procreate a new species out of an old would be to have an effect greater than its cause, which is not possible.

Okay, fine. Evolution isn’t really that exciting anyway. (Having knowledge of it is useless to most people, even if it’s true. Many only love it because they falsely think it kicks Christianity to the curb.)

What else follows from the young earth? Well, genetics is in some pretty deep kimchi. It had to have been that Adam and Eve had sufficient progeny that, after the Fall, that progeny was able, via incest (one supposes, or by mating with human-like creatures, perhaps Neanderthals, which progeny would be human), to reproduce in sufficient number. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. Or, rather, Noah wouldn’t.

After the Flood, which happened, there was only Noah and his wife, and his three sons and their wives. Maybe incest was out, but first-cousin marriages had to be in, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Some say it can be done.

Geneticists believe that there must be sufficient variation for reproduction to not peter out. That must be false. And didn’t we just see a study (which I cannot now rediscover) of some very small population below the critical level of bird (or was it an insect?) that was able to rebound? Genetics is still a new science, so it shouldn’t surprise that they still have some of the basics wrong.

Geology is now in a sad state. Where are the dinosaurs and what about all those fossils? Well, the Flood took care of both. One idea saves the concept of Pangaea, where all land on earth was together. Its breakup into continents, which did not take billions of years but only one or so fays, was one of the causes of the Flood. Imagine—do this—if over the period of a few days the entire North American continent broke up. Water works galore!

The dinosaurs, being fat, drowned. Alligators survived. The upheaval accounts for the rock formations and strange fossil depositions we see. But then we have to a better theory of oil, and of radioactivity, and even of climate. What about all those air bubbles in Antarctic and Greenland ice? That can’t be linear deposition, as believed. There must be another explanation. I don’t know what it would be.

The people (which includes us for the duration of this essay) who hold with a young earth have spent a lot of effort offering alternate explanations of geology, and of course of evolution. But they’ve also put their minds to cosmology, criticizing, for instance, the red shift. A lot more than that has to go, though: like black holes, inflation, and so forth.

You now at least have the idea.


At last we come to our homework. We have enough readers to span expertise in many sciences, all of which would be touched (many are punched) by a young earth.

What science, meaning what theories, do we have to jettison if the young earth theory is true? What are the consequences? What replacements can be imagined?

There is no point writing below “Only a fool doesn’t believe in evolution; here are all the reasons it is true.” We are supposing it is false; or, rather, we have deduced it is false if young earth is true.

So please spare us reasons why your favorite theory is true. Instead tell us how it can be false—or if it even conflicts. I once asked global-warming-of-doom believers “What would convince you your theory is wrong?” Answer came there none. This proves that, for many, that theory is an article of unimpeachable faith.

Keep in mind the Deadly Sin of Reification. Observations are not theory. The same set of observations can fit multiple theories—and that theory drives observation. We don’t search for what we don’t expect. If we throw out a theory we are not throwing out observations, but neither are we as observant as we think.

One theory, which is trivially possible, is that God created the world as the young earthers say, in six days, just as we see it. This conflicts with no observation. God’s power is infinite, and infinity is more than a big number. It would be easier for God to create the universe in six days than for you to drop a hammer on your toe (you might miss). Why God did such a thing is different than how.

Don’t bother with falsifiability, which is a red herring. A theory deduced from indubitable axioms, with no contingent parts, is a true theory and impossible to falsify. The theory of God creating the universe is not falsifiable, but that is no demerit.

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VI Arnold On Models

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Thanks to reader Victor Domin for pointing us to the paper “On teaching mathematics” by V.I. Arnold. Here’s an extended quote on models (do read the whole thing).

At this point a special technique has been developed in mathematics. This technique, when applied to the real world, is sometimes useful, but can sometimes also lead to self-deception. This technique is called modelling. When constructing a model, the following idealisation is made: certain facts which are only known with a certain degree of probability or with a certain degree of accuracy, are considered to be “absolutely” correct and are accepted as “axioms”. The sense of this “absoluteness” lies precisely in the fact that we allow ourselves to use these “facts” according to the rules of formal logic, in the process declaring as “theorems” all that we can derive from them.

This follows along our recent weight of evidence post, and the crucial distinction (discussed in loving detail here) between local and universal or necessary truths. Local truths are when the evidence used to prove the truth of a proposition is itself not true or known to be true. Universal or necessary truths proof propositions based on evidence that is itself a necessary truth. Mathematical, logical, metaphysical, and revelational truths fall into this category.

Probabilities or propositions deduced from ad hoc models, or models which are tentative in the sense Arnold states, are true. But they are local truths. That doesn’t mean they aren’t useful, but usefulness is not the same as truthfulness. Mistaking these things accounts for nitwits running around screeching “Denier!” Scidolatry, of course, is to blame.

It is obvious that in any real-life activity it is impossible to wholly rely on such deductions. The reason is at least that the parameters of the studied phenomena are never known absolutely exactly and a small change in parameters (for example, the initial conditions of a process) can totally change the result. Say, for this reason a reliable long-term weather forecast is impossible and will remain impossible, no matter how much we develop computers and devices which record initial conditions.


This sensitivity to initial conditions has the official name of chaos theory. Giving it a name does not take away from Arnold’s correct conclusion, however. There are some tricks to not improve guesses from these models not in an absolute sense, but to better nail the uncertainty. These are to be admired. But they can’t do what can’t be done.

In exactly the same way a small change in axioms (of which we cannot be completely sure) is capable, generally speaking, of leading to completely different conclusions than those that are obtained from theorems which have been deduced from the accepted axioms. The longer and fancier is the chain of deductions (“proofs”), the less reliable is the final result.

This exactly fits into the weight of probability discussion. There is only probability, or logic, but it makes sense to discuss how influential evidence is.

It’s not that the length of the chain of deductions matters per se, but the more crap you stick on the right hand side of the logic/probability equation, the greater the chance (based on experience) one of those premises won’t itself be true. One weak link is all takes to turn a necessary truth into local truth, i.e. a falsity.

Complex models are rarely useful (unless for those writing their dissertations).

The mathematical technique of modelling consists of ignoring this trouble and speaking about your deductive model in such a way as if it coincided with reality. The fact that this path, which is obviously incorrect from the point of view of natural science, often leads to useful results in physics is called “the inconceivable effectiveness of mathematics in natural sciences” (or “the Wigner principle”).

That has to be because the universe is designed.

“Dude, that makes you a creationist.”

Yep. It do. But consider that most people misunderstand this, thinking creation applies only to the physical word, which supposedly “evolution” and “laws of physics” own. Creation does apply to that, for the “laws” of physics (which is a metaphor) must themselves have been created. They cannot have come from nowhere.

Forget that and think of this: creation also applies to mathematics itself. There must be a reason math is the way it is. Math could not have created itself. Math has a cause, all those theorems have a cause.

So it’s no wonder physics often aligns with mathematics the closer physics gets to its fundaments. This is because both must have the same creator.

There is no escaping this conclusion.

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Pay Up

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Hire Me

The government doesn’t have a monopoly on research funding. But if you add in the funds of so-called non-governmental organizations—which, as has been noted, announce by their name that they are governmental organizations after all—the true monopoly emerges.

He who has the gold directs the research. And we’ve seen where that leads. It’s not that money is bad per se, but when the organizations that are doing the big spending are evil or have intemperate goals, the money turns to dust.

Add to all that the rampant scientism which grips the Western mind and you have some pretty deep kimchi.

We can dig ourselves out, at least a little, by funding our own dissident work.

Now I have a lot of sharp readers and they send me many suspect and nonsense studies to comment on. The outrageously bad papers take only a short time to read and write about. But the most deceptive, best-backed ones (such as PM2.5) can take tons of effort.

If we want to put the sting on these, it’s going to take some real backing. Consider sponsoring your own counter-study.

Contrary to what you’ve read, I have never taken any form of consideration from an energy or tobacco company. Not that I wouldn’t have, but it’s never been offered.

Alone Ourselves

A whole slew of sweetheart supporters of this no-ads-save-for-this site contribute a couple of bucks a month or make one-time donations. These thrill me no end and they provide true independence to your host.

These funds goes to the web-hosting fees and that sort of thing. Some of it goes to cigars and cheap red wine.

I’ve fixed up the donation page; moved it to a new platform. It allows credit card or PayPal. It appears to work, but if not, let me know.

And look! A button is here, too!



The on-line class in predictive methods is there, in words and code. If you don’t yet own a copy of this master piece, why, I feel sorry for you.

Perhaps the class begins too far downstream, however, and it would be better to begin at the beginning with this award-eligible book. I’ve been meaning to do a re-write and second edition, adding homework questions at chapter ends, so this would spur me into action.

So I’ve been exploring a camera of some kind to do what I’m always blah-blah-blahing about: creating the dissident university. In micro form—so far.

Now I have as much experience with photography and video as your typical SJW does with Reality. I have nothing along these lines. I welcome all suggestions.

I had my eye on this setup, a Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR Camera with a suite of whatnots. I’ve seen some reviews saying it works well for vlogging, and it somewhat portable, a requirement. I certainly don’t need anything extra-super fancy.

Regular readers will recall some video experiments, mostly dismal. Much of the dismality (you heard me: dismality) was the result of laziness, and my failure to write a script. That much I know how to fix.

I’m on KDE Linux and used kdenlive. I don’t have a large machine (wee 8GB laptop), so can’t do mega video editing. But this seems to work for me. If you know of better, chime in. I am a complete newbie here.

New Book #1

It’s done! The one on “popular fallacies.” I am now looking around for publishers. I was shot down about a year ago at Regnery, which was my fault. The title I used was rotten and would have begged people not to buy the book.

That was the title, incidentally. Popular Fallacies: The Bad Arguments We Love.

I still cringe looking at it, for it is nothing like those perennial tomes with lists of Latin false syllogisms. These are good books, but one would never call them rousing. Mine will certainly perform that function, if nothing else.

Subtitles I don’t love, and the new title is without one. It might not survive without this unnecessary appendage after the book meets a marketing department.

What is the new title? Ha! Wouldn’t you like to know!

New Book #2

It’s not done! It’s barely past the title stage. The subject is scientism.

Weight Of Evidence

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Some have the idea that there should be a “weight of evidence” that is separate from probability, or in addition to it. Probability judgments are held more or less strongly, and from that feeling—and it is a feeling, not a thought—comes the idea of weight.

The idea has merit, but in an opposite sense to what most mean.

All probability fits this schema:


where Y is the proposition of interest (Y can be a mathematical object), and E is the evidence or propositions thought probative of Y.

E is usually a compound proposition, which we might write

     E = E_1 E_2 … E_p (all “anded”),

where it is assumed, in the presence of Y, none of the E_i can be deduced from any E_j, and where any of the E_i can itself be complicated (ands, ors, etc.). The numbering is usually somewhat arbitrary.

Now, to slightly switch tack, in mathematics it is well known that often some theorems may be proved in any number of ways. Here is a page which collected 122 proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem. I haven’t stepped through all of them, but a cursory look shows that each provides a different line of proof.

So if we let Y = “a^2 + b^2 = c^2” and E_73 = “Let CE = BC = a, CD = AC = b, F is the intersection of DE and AB….[the rest of the details of proof #73]”, and where, as always, the word and symbol definition and grammar are part of the evidence.

Then Pr(Y|E_73) = 1. But also Pr(Y|E_1) = 1, Pr(Y|E_2) = 1, …, Pr(Y|E_122) = 1, and so on. We could also write

     Pr(Y| E_1 E_2 … E_p) = 1.

And we could strip away some of the E_i from the middle and still be left with the extreme probability. But we have that because there are so many different ways of proving this theorem, that it’s not just true, but “really true”, which is to say, of profounder importance. The weight of all this evidence doesn’t make Y an truer, because any one proof is sufficient for that. It’s that we sometimes suspect that what we have in hand is not a universal truth, but a local truth.

A local truth is when Pr(Y|WB) = 1 but where W it itself not a necessary truth and where B is our background information which is necessarily true. A local truth is when Pr(W|B) < 1. For example, W = “Riemann hypothesis”. There are many mathematical theorems which assume this, and show Pr(Y|WB) = 1. But it is still the case that Pr(W|B) < 1 for the B we know. That is, knowing only what we know B, the Riemann hypothesis is not proved.

A universal truth is when Pr(Y|WB) = 1 and when Pr(W|B) = 1, where B is necessarily true. The Pythagorean Theorem fits into this scheme. Technically, we should write Pr(B|I) = 1, where “I” represents our inductions, such as axioms, but I leave it out to make the notation simpler.

If all we had in hand was the simplest earliest evidence for the Pythagorean Theorem, E_1, we’d still have Pr(Y|E_1) = 1, but the theorem, while still proved, would not be as solid in our minds as when we have all E_i. That’s because any particle of E_1 that is removed, making it E*_1, would greatly lessen Pr(Y|E*_1).

It’s the same when the probability of Y is non-extreme, i.e. in (0,1), excepting the limits.
Weight of probability is a judgement to how robust Pr(Y|E) is from imagining removing parts of E. Weight of probability is thus a sensitivity measure, saying how stable the probability of Y is with respect to the given evidence.

It can in formal situations be quantified. Assuming some ad hoc probability model with observations D_n = (Y,X)_n, we can compute Pr(Y|X,D_n) or Pr(Y|X,D_{-i}) where we imagine removing the i-th observation. This gives an idea of the weight of evidence of particular observations. It’s all conditional, though, as removing the i_th observation may have more or less weight depending on the size of n.

Weight of evidence is important. For now consider Y = “P = NP”, a classic problem in computability theory (you can read about it here).

Just as we had the collection of proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem, there is a similar collection of results that show Pr(Y|E_1) = 1, …, Pr(Y|E_5) = 0, …, Pr(Y|E_8) = undecidable, …

Those aren’t typos! There are 116 different local proofs showing Y is true or false, and in a couple of cases undecidable (it is no problem having undecidable probability: see this).

Now since (this) Y will be necessarily true or false, it must be that at least some of these proofs are local, which means the evidence upon which they rely is itself not necessarily true. Or that a lot of people are making logic mistakes, which includes the chance of different interpretations of definitions. Both are live possibilities. The latter is, I am guessing, more likely correct, because definitions are often tacit and they are always tricky.

In any case, you can see that the weight of probability, or evidence, here is a genuine concern.

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Notes On AI Accuracy (Facial Recognition)

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Here’s a tweet (addressed to Judea Pearl), “If you could get rid of all the spurious non causal correlations in a machine-learning model, you would be left with only the invariant ones which would in turn allow you to understand causality relationships.”

Let’s rephrase that: If you could identify only causal connections in a model, you could understand cause.

True. But of the same value as saying If we could only create a model that predicts perfectly, we’d have a model that makes perfect predictions.

Identifying which connections are in the causal path of some observable, and which are connections are merely spurious, is I think what AI researchers would admit is their holy grail.

They’ll never find it.

At least, not in any general sense.

The first problem is the notions of cause many are using isn’t right. The second is that grasping a causal power is an activity of the intellect, and machines don’t have intellects.

Oh, sure, they’ll be able to program machines to automate tasks that people first know how to do, and where the causal powers of things are at least roughly understood. License plate readers do a reasonable job, as does, to a lesser extent, facial recognition. A lot of human minds, or rules derived from human reasoning, goes into these algorithms. Nothing wrong with that. Indeed, it’s just the right thing. But it’s not AI discovering the cause, it’s non-artificial intelligence.

There are myriad causes of a pixel firing a certain strength on a CCD. And for its neighbor pixels firing or remaining quiescent. One of the causes is the shape of the letters in the reflected light off a plate or face. Others are dirt, rain scatter, etc., etc., etc. You can’t know with certainty you have only the reflection isolated, and the other stuff eliminated. You’ll be left with a model—a predictive model, thank the Lord—in the end.

Well, it’s the same in any model. The hope is that only the right “stuff” is measured to predict the observable. But if we knew we only had the right stuff, then we’d know the cause of the observable, and then we don’t have AI, we have physics. In other words, AI is just statistical modeling. But predictive statistical modeling, which is good.

Facial recognition is big. I’m not up on facial recognition tests in real environments. I mean I don’t know how accurate they are in non-laboratory conditions. The picture heading this post gives some indication (from here; only a database test, I believe). There are reports like this:

The closely watched NIST results released last November concluded that the entire industry has improved not just incrementally, but “massively.” It showed that at least 28 developers’ algorithms now outperform the most accurate algorithm from late 2013, and just 0.2 percent of all searches by all algorithms tested failed in 2018, compared with a 4 percent failure rate in 2014 and 5 percent rate in 2010.

That 0.2% is fantastic, of course. That sounds like a planned database test, and not a field test. Any algorithm ought to do good in database tests, or it’s not worth talking about in public.

A field test is harder. Say, point a camera at the airport security line and see how many bad guys on the wanted list are discovered. Accuracy can’t be assessed unless you have actors playing the roles, since in a real line you won’t know who you missed; only false positives are recorded. You’re back in dirty license plate territory. Seems in real tests the accuracy is closer to coin flipping.

Here, too, the idea of skill is paramount. Probably not a lot of bad guys go through any given line. Suppose it’s 1 in a 1000. So if you guessed for every single person “Not a bad guy”, you’d be right 999 out of a 1000, an accuracy of 99.9%. Wonderful!

No, the model—and it is a model—stinks. Any fancy-dancy AI algorithm must beat 99.9% or it’s useless. If it can’t beat it, then we’re better off guessing “Not a bad guy.”

Of course, you might be willing to accept some extra false positives in exchange for not missing real bad guys. Better to inconvenience a few travelers than let some bad guy fly to Hollywood and harass the indigenous populants. There are formal ways you can account for this asymmetry (ahem).

Anyway, performance is surely not what’s reported in the press.

We’ll discuss much more about AI/stats and cause later.

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Summary Against Modern Thought: God Uses Angels & Demons

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Previous post.

The world, Reality, is a much richer place than most of us know. Our good saint proves that angels and demons carrying out God’s will is possible.


1 Since it is the function of divine providence to maintain order in things, and since a suitable order is such that there is a proportional descent from the highest things to the lowest it must be that divine providence reaches the farthest things by some sort of proportion. Now, the proportion is like this: as the highest creatures are under God and are governed by Him, so the lower creatures are under the higher ones and are ruled by them. But of all creatures the highest are the intellectual ones, as is evident from what we said earlier. Therefore, the rational plan of divine providence demands that the other creatures be ruled by rational creatures.

2 Again, whatever type of creature carries out the order of divine providence, it is able to do so because it participates in something of the power of the first providential being; just as an instrument does not move unless, through being moved, it participates somewhat in the power of the principal agent. So, the beings that participate more fully in the power of the divine providence are executive agents of divine providence in regard to those that participate less.

But intellectual creatures participate more than others in it, because an ability to establish order which is done by cognitive power, and an ability to execute it which is clone by operative power, are both required for providence, and rational creatures share in both types of power, while the rest of creatures have operative powers only. Therefore, all other creatures are ruled by means of rational creatures under divine providence.

Notes Angels and demons are, of course, purely intellectual creatures.

3 Besides, to whomever any power is given by God, the recipient is given the power together with an ordination toward the effect of that power. For in that way all things are arranged for the best, inasmuch as each thing is ordered to all the goods that can naturally come from it. Now, the intellectual power by itself is capable of ordering and ruling; hence, we see that the operative power follows the direction of the intellective power, when they are combined in the same subject.

In man, for instance, we observe that the bodily members are moved at the command of the will. The same is evident even if they are in different subjects; for instance, those men who excel in operative power must be directed by those who excel in intellectual power. Therefore, the rational plan of divine providence demands that other creatures be ruled by intellectual creatures.

4 Moreover, particular powers are naturally adapted to be moved by universal powers; this is evident quite as much in the artistic as in the natural sphere. Now, it is obvious that intellectual power is more universal than any operative power, for the intellectual power contains universal forms, while each power is operative only because of some form proper to the agent. Therefore, all other creatures must be moved and regulated by means of intellectual powers.

5 Furthermore, in all powers arranged in an order, one is directive in relation to the next, and it knows the rational plan best. Thus, we see in the case of the arts that one art, which is concerned with the end from which the plan for the entire artistic production is derived, directs and commands another art which makes the product, as the art of navigation does in regard to shipbuilding. So, the one that introduces the form commands the one that prepares the matter.

Instruments, on the other hand, which do not know the plan at all, are simply ruled. Since only intellectual creatures can know the rational plans for the ordering of creatures, it will therefore be their function to rule and govern all other creatures.

6 Again, that which is of itself is the cause of that which is through another. But only intellectual creatures operate by themselves, in the sense that they are masters of their operations through free choice of their will. On the other hand, other creatures are involved in operation resulting from the necessity of nature, since they are moved by something else. Therefore, intellectual creatures by their operation are motivating and regulative of other creatures.

Notes Free choice of their will; meaning, as is clear, free will.