Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On beliefs in mostly a roundabout way

Enlightenment is emptiness. For a scion of the modernist paradigm, that's a hard truth to accept, but accept it you must.

Enlightenment narrows the space for belief. Belief is an odd word. We use the same word for two different, but related, concepts. When I say I believe that Paris is the capital of France, or that 2 plus 2 is 4, or that rust is iron oxide, I am saying something different from saying that I believe in a god, or that life has a purpose, or that I will have an afterlife.

The first set of beliefs are conventions that you can know or not know, but you cannot challenge. You cannot have a true belief that Toulouse is the capital of France (if you are sane) unless you simply do not know properly what France is. But of course you do know that--no one who reads this is that lacking in knowledge, or at least I wouldn't have thought so--but doubtless for each of you we could find something that is true by convention but you do not know it.

And it should be clear that this kind of belief does not involve a judgement. To be clear, consider the difference between saying I believe that Medoc comes from southeast France, from the Bordeaux region, and saying I believe that Medoc is the world's finest wine. (I think also that it is hard to describe it as a lie if you are wrong in the first case, because you would not ordinarily lie about facts by convention, and if you are wrong, you would not be assumed to be lying, just mistaken; but in the second case, it is easy to lie, and you may be assumed to be some of the time, because you can easily misrepresent your beliefs of this type. But am I lying if I say that Medoc is the world's finest wine? I do not actually hold that belief--I don't have an opinion. Am I lying if you agree and not if you don't? We often believe that people are lying simply because what they believe is different from what we believe. Indeed, you can lie about the former type of belief more readily when your correspondent doesn't know the truth, and your lie should correspondingly be more believable: if you do not know where Medoc is, I can likely tell you that it is in Burgundy and you have no reason not to believe it. What generally stops us from doing this is the likelihood of your being unmisled.)

But increasing the set of beliefs of the first kind tends to leave you unable to have the second kind. The world, when explicable, becomes mundane, and the space in which beliefs in the intangible can live is narrowed. In a sense, you stop caring whether there is more to it: the solution you have is complete in itself and the world becomes manageable.

***

I don't know where I was going with that. My point is quite small though: as you learn more about how things work, you have less space for fantasies about how things work.

So if I know that I am a purely physical being, and can explain the appearance of a self purely mechanically, I no longer have space in my worldview for an eternal life.

Which is a pisser.

But on the other hand, I sometimes think to myself, well, you don't do anything much with your life now, so what use would more of it be? And I have a clear insight that this is true of any one of us: our achievements will be dust given the right timeframe. This seems to me to excuse lack of purpose or ambition. Purpose is ridiculous in a huge universe, and ambition meaningless in a life with a limit that is so short.

***

I was thinking today about Searle's Chinese room. I disagree with Searle that semantics is separate from syntax, as it happens. I believe "understanding", in the sense he is using it, is an epiphenomenon of the processing of information by syntactical rules, not something that exists as a thing in itself.

In other words, you understand Chinese because you can do certain sorts of mental processing, not because there is a property of understanding Chinese that is somehow an overlay on that processing.

I am interested in Searle's Chinese gym answer to Churchland's connectionist attack on his thought experiment.

Imagine, if you will, a Chinese gymnasium, with many monolingual English speakers working in parallel, producing output indistinguishable from that of native Chinese speakers: each follows their own (more limited) set of instructions in English. Still, Searle insists, obviously, none of these individuals understands; and neither does the whole company of them collectively. It's intuitively utterly obvious, Searle maintains, that no one and nothing in the revised "Chinese gym" experiment understands a word of Chinese either individually or collectively. Both individually and collectively, nothing is being done in the Chinese gym except meaningless syntactic manipulations from which intentionality and consequently meaningful thought could not conceivably arise.

I am not clear though why the human brain should be considered to be any different from the Chinese gym. The instructions that neurons follow are like the instructions in English that the people in the gym receive, and their outputs are like the sentences of Chinese that Searle's Chinese room produces. The neurons do not understand the process.

Searle wants an explanation for the understanding that a Chinese speaker has of Chinese. But he is making the assumption that the Chinese speaker does understand Chinese without plainly explaining what understanding it is and how it differs from simply being able to produce it by following certain rules.

Why does that explanation lack? Because Searle assumes it. He assumes that there just is a mind that just does think, and that thinking does not need to be defined in this case (well, we all know what it feels like, at least, so we know it as a phenomenon).

I've never been much convinced by arguments that piles of stones and cardboard tubes cannot think, because I do not see how a pile of stones and a cardboard tube are sufficiently different from a bunch of neurons that one can say the latter is capable of something the former is not just because of some special factor one has that the other doesn't. (By special factor, I mean not some ordinary factor such as being organic, because I think Searle and his kin would claim that a machine made out of hydrocarbons could not think either.)

In other words, I am not a dualist.

***

Eastern religions see enlightenment as the extinction of the self. You wake up to reality (which is unitary) and realise it has no space for the self. Science is proving Eastern thought right in that respect.

But it is, imo, massively wrong in many other respects. Most religions address a couple of fundamental questions: how did I get here and why should I live in a particular way? (The second question is not so much, what is a good life? although that is a precursor to it.) It seems that you could pretty much define any metaphysics as a religion so long as it answers those questions. The formal aspects of religion are in many ways just frills.

But without ego, it's hard to see why I should live in any particular way, or why how you got here is a particularly difficult question.

If we extinguish the self, it's hard to see why we need to escape becoming. If I am not, I did not ever become and will not become again.

(Before I receive a spanking from someone who understands Buddhism, please be clear that I understand how these contradictions are resolved; but I reject the resolution.)

Partly, of course, you need a theory of afterlife to provide a motivation for moral behaviour. We have motivation on a mundane level for cooperative behaviour (and this is arguably sufficient for a moral code, particularly if it is reinforced with a range of punitive behaviours that can be expected from others) but we do not have a motivation for being good as an aim in itself.

There is for sure a contradiction between nonself and becoming, and I don't think the analogy of a candle lighting another candle explains it away. I think that in the development of Eastern thought, it's likely that the concept of a continuing self must once have been established but was abandoned. We feel like we are not extinguishable, that we are something separate from the material world, separate even from our own bodies (even if you are not a dualist, the horse and jockey metaphor likely works for you, because it feels somewhat right).

***

We all have many beliefs that we believe to be of the first type but we do not know the evidence for them. I am not sure whether they are a third type of belief. I suppose they are. The first are nearly all "beliefs by convention": 2 + 2 is 4 because that is what those symbols are. I do not know whether 2 + 2 = 4 is the same thing as "two rocks plus two rocks are four rocks" but I think it is at least possible that it isn't. (I have been reading about number theory and it's quite striking that some of the fundamental numbers are not readily expressible in our number system: by which I mean they are not "closable". Pi is almost ineffable! You can describe its effects; you can explain methods of deriving it; but you cannot say what it, itself, is. It's just pi. And by "closable", I mean that you cannot describe it in finite terms by our number system: the description of pi cannot be smaller than our universe, even though pi can be contained by it. The same is true of e and i. Maybe they have a kind of meaning for mathematicians that they do not for me; I do not know what to make of their oddness, their "unclosability" (I am not sure whether there is any difference between that and "irrationality"). Anyway, number theory resembles a bag of clever tricks to make numbers work more than it does a description of anything "real". Anyone who has looked into how quite simple theorems were proved will know what I mean.)

I mean something like the big bang. I was talking to A today about the big bang, and she asked, as people are wont to do, how something could come out of nothing. Now, I know that something did not come out of nothing, because there wasn't even nothing, but I don't know what that means.

I believe it was like that but I don't know why you would believe it was like that.

I'm not in general fond of belief by trust (although it's a necessary outcome of the specialisation of knowledge that is a necessary outcome of the sheer volume of stuff we know) but I do not know how I would be able to acquire, or having acquired, understand, the evidence. I mean, I can go to Paris and verify that it is the capital of France, or I can take the view that it is because everyone says so (a sort of "black swan" theory of Paris' being the capital of France: a black swan disproves "swans are white" and someone's saying that Toulouse is the capital of France may not be a disproof but at least provides some evidence, however tiny, that Paris might not be--which allows the meaning of "is capital of" to be extended sufficiently to be useful in both "Paris is the capital of France" and "Jerusalem is the capital of Israel").

***

I think that if music has meaning then it disproves Searle.

I think you can view music as being absolute, but we interpret it as having meaning by some mechanism that does not belong in music, or you can view it as having meaning within itself.

Is it clear that numbers are the same? I think it should be. Either they are meaningful because their meaning lies within them and the processes that elaborate them, or they are meaningful because we apply an external semantics to them.

I do not think that music has meaning but I think Searle is still wrong.

There is no contradiction in this section and I defy anyone to find one. If you think there is one, you are simply unable to understand that disproofs are not limited by the nonexistence of any particular disproof (although that does not mean that they cannot be limited--although in general, they are unlimited: in other words, you can't prove a thing true because you do not know whether there really are no black swans, only that none of the previous swans was in fact black, even though some were claimed to be). In other words, even if I can't disprove Searle this way, it doesn't mean he cannot be disproved in another way. This truth is precisely what creationists rely on, and why they cannot be dismissed finally. It's also why PZ Myers is an idiot, I'm sorry to say, and Dawkins too. Each of them is correct that there are no black swans in evidence but each makes the mistake of thinking that this proves there are no black swans. God can create a black swan at any point that he wishes though, and there is nothing PZ can do to prove that wrong. That is simply an axiom of reason, painful though it may be to accept fully. God can exist: I do not believe that the belief space for God will ever be sufficiently small, even if it does seem small enough right now.

112 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

don't confuse terms used in computational linguistics with terms used in everyday life; semantics, syntax, and understanding are three separate things. brains do not cause minds, Searle has that reversed.

August 1, 2008 at 8:15 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

oh my.

where to begin?

August 2, 2008 at 4:39 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

IF!


"IF a unicorn is running in the Kentucky derby..."
-- Dr. Zen [paraphrased]


"IF all brown-haired women have bad tempers..."
-- Dr. Zen [mocked]


"IF 3 + 3 = 5..."
-- Dr. Zen [owned]

August 2, 2008 at 5:19 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

I do not think that music has meaning

yikes.

August 3, 2008 at 3:18 PM  
Anonymous Arleen said...

re: music having meaning

Zero, if I'm understanding what Zen is saying, music has no meaning because it's nothing more than sounds of various frequencies vibrating your inner ear mechanisms. In and of itself it's just noise. Any meaning derived from it comes from the interpretive mechanisms of the hearer. Just as with language, the composer may have placed those notes together in such a way as to encourage whatever interpretation the hearer makes, but ultimately, it's the hearer that gives the music the meaning. The music itself is nothing, just notes strung together.

August 4, 2008 at 3:48 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

Just as with language, the composer may have placed those notes together in such a way as to encourage whatever interpretation the hearer makes, but

ba'dum, chsh!

August 5, 2008 at 10:44 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

ba'dum, chsh!

August 5, 2008 at 10:44 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

This is just wrong and you are compounding the error precisely by confusing syntax with semantics.

August 5, 2008 at 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

boots I have no idea what you're trying to say. I have a degree in linguistics and I'm well aware what syntax and semantics mean, and was using them with the meaning they have in linguistics.

Also, Searle believes the opposite to what you suggest. I am a partisan of the position you claim him to have.

August 5, 2008 at 10:48 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

This is just wrong

what "this" are you refering to, linguistics boy?

August 5, 2008 at 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

What arleen said. I am actually saying something quite different.

August 5, 2008 at 11:00 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

care to restate what you're trying to say so that both arleen and myself (and boots) can grasp it?

August 5, 2008 at 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Meaning is not an overlay. HTH.

August 5, 2008 at 11:04 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

"meaning is not an overlay"?

what exactly does that mean?

August 5, 2008 at 11:05 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

oh, don't be so condescending.

just try to restate your point so that it makes more obvious sense.

August 5, 2008 at 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

I just did.

August 5, 2008 at 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Apply the rules of English and you'll understand, z.

August 5, 2008 at 11:07 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

no, you didn't.

try giving a couple of concrete examples distinguishing the two kinds of expression you're attempting to differentiate.

August 5, 2008 at 11:09 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

no answer?

oh, c'mon now, Zen, you can do much better than that. you're one of the best analogy makers i know.

certainly music is a far less "precise" language than something like English or French, but surely you can come up with far better comparisons to make your point, no?

August 5, 2008 at 11:35 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

There's nothing further to explain.

August 5, 2008 at 11:38 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

are you suggesting that only languages which have nouns and verbs (and adjectives and adverbs) are able to express meaning?

August 5, 2008 at 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

wat

August 5, 2008 at 11:40 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

what a (t)???

thinker?

August 5, 2008 at 11:41 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

There's nothing further to explain.

yikes.

August 5, 2008 at 11:41 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

what a (t)???

twit?

August 5, 2008 at 11:42 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

seriously though, body language has no nouns or verbs, yet meaning can very easily be expressed.

August 5, 2008 at 1:32 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Thinking a bit more deeply about body language, and particularly how it varies across cultures, should lead you to understanding what I said.

Anyway, nouns and verbs are not the only syntactic units and it's perfectly reasonable to consider "syntax" to mean "rules for combination of signs", rather than "grammar" or whatever limited meaning you're trying to impose on it.

Bees have syntax, bro. Think about that.

August 5, 2008 at 1:45 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

thanks, with your cultural elaboration, you've just made my argument for music having meaning.

August 5, 2008 at 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

We haven't talked about whether music has meaning.

August 5, 2008 at 1:54 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

you said it didn't.

August 5, 2008 at 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

It doesn't. GICCTUFY.

August 5, 2008 at 1:56 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

sorry, i'm not familiar with that acronym.

August 5, 2008 at 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Glad I could clear that up for you.

Actually, I'm just pulling your pisser.

Music doesn't in general have meaning in the first sense, but clearly does in the second.

August 5, 2008 at 1:59 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

anyway, try making up your mind.

if bees have syntax, and music has syntax, then the flight of the bumblebee must make your head spin.

August 5, 2008 at 2:00 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

Music doesn't in general have meaning in the first sense, but clearly does in the second.

oh, so now i have to go back and read your article again?

August 5, 2008 at 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Music has syntax, but in general the syntactic rules for parsing music do not generate meaning. (Transformational grammarians would argue the same of human language, but I think they have to be wrong.)

In certain ways, of course, music contains meaning. There are some onomatopoeic uses of music that are clearly meaningful in and of themselves. "Angry" music sounds angry, for instance (but there is no genuine correspondence: one could play "angry" music and sing a happy song, transforming its "meaning" -- there's a clue for you, bro).

Music is like a game, with reasonably simple rules that can generate reasonably complicated outcomes. It's a function of the complexity of the outcomes that they can be interpreted as having meaning. (Arleen is wrong to suggest that I am saying that they are just sounds, although she is right so long as she means that they are just tokens, not signs.)

August 5, 2008 at 2:15 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

how do you distinguish something which has meaning from something that does not have meaning?

IOW: define "meaningful".

August 5, 2008 at 5:20 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

This is a particular meaning of "meaning", and you are confusing the issue with that question.

Meaningful in this context doesn't mean any more than "contains semantic content". I am not going to define "semantic content". You can read a book for that.

August 5, 2008 at 5:22 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

hah!

August 5, 2008 at 5:23 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

This is a particular meaning of "meaning"

is that a classic quotable quote or what?

yet, it gets better!

This is a particular meaning of "meaning", and you are confusing the issue with that question.


and better!

Meaningful in this context doesn't mean any more than "contains semantic content".

methinks we've almost got the Argument Clinic on the run with this baby.

August 5, 2008 at 5:28 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

but the real zinger is:

I am not going to define "semantic content".

surpassed only by this voila:

You can read a book for that.

game. set. match.

August 5, 2008 at 5:31 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

but the most amusing thing of all is your opening statement in this essay:

Enlightenment is emptiness.

yikes.

August 5, 2008 at 5:36 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Actually, I've probably given the impression that I believe that meaning is fixed, but that would be the wrong impression. I believe it is negotiable and it's precisely for that reason that Searle is wrong.

I do believe that every decoding is another encoding but I believe that it follows from that that meaning is what you might call syntactic on the whole. I forget whose theory it is that we don't share meaning but merely assume that it coincides, but that seems entirely correct to me.

Of course, that opens up the possibility that misunderstanding is impossible. I should bank that if I were you, zero.

August 5, 2008 at 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Perhaps you didn't understand what I meant by "enlightenment is emptiness". It's certainly true in Eastern thought, although you'd generally see it phrased the other way round.

August 5, 2008 at 5:38 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

its' a zen thing.

August 5, 2008 at 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

It's the general belief of the Enlightenment AFAIK that enlightenment enriches us. Materially, there's no doubt that's true. In other ways, I'm not so sure.

I nearly said "spiritually" but then I reminded myself that I do not have a spirit.

August 5, 2008 at 5:47 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

Actually, I've probably given the impression that I believe that meaning is fixed,

ya think?


but that would be the wrong impression. I believe it is negotiable and it's precisely for that reason that Searle is wrong.

so how does Unicornian Mathematics and Unicornian Logic fit in with that thought of yours?

huh?

August 5, 2008 at 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

As far as "unicornian" whatevers go, I think it's fair to say you've missed me more than I've missed you.

August 5, 2008 at 5:51 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

not a chance.

you couldn't even identify the supposed axiom which was "violated".

August 5, 2008 at 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

I must apologise but I'm afraid I don't have a clue what the fuck you're on about.

August 5, 2008 at 5:54 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

IF 3 + 3 = 5

IF...

you claimed that the conclusion would be "true" because the IF statement was false. yet you could not identify what was false or invalid about it.

but nor could anyone else so...

August 5, 2008 at 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

I don't recall anything except that you don't understand or accept the entire tradition of logic. Which is fine, except that when literally the entire world disagrees with you, you might consider that you have it wrong.

I mean, you could consider yourself a visionary whose time is yet to come, but you'd need to have a new idea for that, rather than a simple inability to understand the old one.

August 5, 2008 at 6:05 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

funny, but i still don't see you citing the specific illogic.

August 5, 2008 at 6:06 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

I don't recall anything except that you don't understand or accept the entire tradition of logic.

what specifically am i "not understanding" or "accepting" in that regard?

August 5, 2008 at 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

I explained to you that you had given as premises p and not-p, which allows any conclusion you like.

I am not going to school you again in it. I feel sad that you waste so many hours of your life in being all butthurt about it, so I am fucked if you waste my hours too.

August 5, 2008 at 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Having said that, you still owe me 29 bucks. Pay up.

August 5, 2008 at 6:17 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

what you continue to fail to understand is that i did not give contradictional premises.

your inability to admit that is astonishing.

i explained specifically how 3 + 3 equals 2 + 2 while 3 > 2.

and you could not dispute it in any specific way. IOW: you could not cite any inexorable axiom that i violated in my proof.

you call that *moi* being butthurt?

LOL.

August 5, 2008 at 6:17 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

IF...

IF!

August 5, 2008 at 6:20 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

You are like a girlfriend who I've battered for years, and still insists I do it because I love her.

I don't. I do it because I'm a vicious prick.

29 dollars please. I'll even accept Aussie dollars at this stage. Or play you heads up for it. Double or nothing.

August 5, 2008 at 6:20 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

where's the contradiction in the premise?

please cite.

what syntax do i have wrong?

August 5, 2008 at 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

I will warn you only once. Try to rehash boring Uselessnet bullshit in my comments and you'll have your posting privileges removed.

August 5, 2008 at 6:23 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

i'd LOVE to play heads up Texas Hold'em for the $29 you owe me.

but i fear that you couldn't possibly handle the humiliation of losing so soundly.

August 5, 2008 at 6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

"boots I have no idea what you're trying to say."

That isn't surprising, I look back at it now and I'm not entirely sure what my hurried scratchings were intended to mean.

Perhaps there's a clue in the difference between intended meaning and meaning. Between what we want to say or write or program, and what we actually spit forth. Even though our spittle may be syntactically correct and our meaning may appear clear, it may not coincide with our intent.

From the link in your blog it appears that Searle believes that "brains cause minds" and in my opinion it is minds that cause brains. Brains are lumps of crud that snails leave behind as they crawl toward the light, and because the sun reflects from them we see them not as what they are but what we imagine them to be.

Over 50 comments, fucksake what is $Zero on about now.

August 5, 2008 at 6:30 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

what is $Zero on about now

language, as usual.

August 5, 2008 at 6:35 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

and logic.

August 5, 2008 at 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

zero, I'm a very fair man. I'll give you the chance to clear your debt in a game of HU. If you win, you no longer owe me 29 bucks. If you lose, you pay me 58. If your holdem is anything like your logic, I'll make a nice earn off you.

boots, without a receiver a transmitter does not have a meaning.

Minds do not cause brains. Minds are epiphenomena of the working of brains. Brains are what we imagine them to be: just lumps of cells.

You are an idealist, boots, so far as I can tell. You are a monist, like me, but Searle is a dualist. The distinction in thought in these cases are along two dimensions, I think: how many substances you think reality divides into and whether you believe the world to be real or ideal. Searle would be dual/real, I monist/real, you monist/ideal.

August 5, 2008 at 6:39 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

realists vs idealists?

monists vs dualists?

odd vs even.

ba'dum, chsh!

August 5, 2008 at 6:42 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

my logic is without peer.

and my holdem is way better than my logic (because i include player reads).

so, there you go.

you might as well just send me the $58 now and save yourself all that grinding time.

August 5, 2008 at 6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

boots sez:

I'm glad you have that all figured out Zen. I wonder what it means that after all our discussion you still have what seems to be an erroneous view of the way I see things. Probably says reams of my writing [in]ability.

This is not the time for it and blucking cog fomments are not the medium. I would spend hours attempting to compose something that would again fail to reach the mark then this javascript comment turd would lose the text as it has done so many times before. Email if you want to discuss it, if not that's fine too in its way.

Stay well, don't confuse Berkley's view with mine, and pay attention to those unexpected events in your life since they are the best clue available.

August 6, 2008 at 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

boots, I call it as I see it. You are describing yourself in that way. I'm sorry I haven't replied to your email recently. I'll dig it up and do that. Maybe we can skype some time. Might be easier to chat about it than write about it.

Zero, if you're that good at poker, you should be coaching me, bro.

August 6, 2008 at 7:01 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

i've won four of the last six tourneys i've played.

and the ones i lost were bad beats.

for instance, i was the big blind, i had (K, 9) which gave me a straight on the flop (Q, J, T) so i went all in (to suck in the two peeps who were highly aggravated with moi -- one of which obliged) yet i lost to a full house on the river to the peep who obliged my raise with their Q 4.

the thing is, it didn't bother me one bit. i just laughed.

anyway...

i don't coach poker.

but i do enjoy discussing it.

so here's a question for you to consider:

how many players are likely to have an ace before the flop at a table of ten players?

August 7, 2008 at 12:45 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Dunno. Two? I know when you have one it's 75% someone else will have an ace in theory, and 100% in practice.

August 7, 2008 at 8:04 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

can you see why that's a tell?

August 7, 2008 at 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Well, no. Maybe "tell" doesn't mean what you think it does.

August 7, 2008 at 11:02 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

"75% in theory, 100% in practice."

August 7, 2008 at 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Yes, I know what I wrote. I just don't see how it's a tell. it's what we call in the poiker biz a "joke".

August 7, 2008 at 12:22 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

LOL

August 7, 2008 at 12:23 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

ok.

here's another question:

there are ten computers competing in a Texas Holdem tourney.

they each use the same program to make decisions.

which one wins?

August 7, 2008 at 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

The luckiest.

August 7, 2008 at 12:32 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

nope.

the iMac.

August 7, 2008 at 12:33 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

wat

August 7, 2008 at 12:33 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

anyway, that wasn't meant to be a joke. surely you realize that computers can't be lucky.

August 7, 2008 at 12:40 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

so if ten computers are competing in a Texas Holdem tourney, all using the same program, none of them wins.

August 7, 2008 at 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

ofc computers can be lucky. Luck is not something a person does, it's something that happens to you.

August 7, 2008 at 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

How are you even able to win a cent if your lack of understanding of poiker is this deep?

August 7, 2008 at 12:43 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

ask the losers who payed me.

August 7, 2008 at 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

You ran hot.

August 7, 2008 at 12:44 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

nope.

i use reads (and questions) as well as the maths.

August 7, 2008 at 12:46 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

film yourself playing poker.

watch the video.

adjust accordingly.

August 7, 2008 at 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Reads are overrated. Almost completely useless online also.

August 7, 2008 at 12:48 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

reads are overated, FFS?

so that's why you think that the luckiest computer wins.

makes sense, huh?

August 7, 2008 at 12:49 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

Almost completely useless online

agreed.

August 7, 2008 at 12:50 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Good luck getting a tell off your iMac, bro.

August 7, 2008 at 12:55 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

i've got a fucking Dell.

it's a fucking piece of shit.

August 7, 2008 at 12:56 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

anyway, i took the advice i gave you months ago and started playing poker with some friends every weekend.

August 7, 2008 at 12:59 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

it's not often that i take my own advice, so imagine my surprise to find out how wise i was to do so.

August 7, 2008 at 1:02 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Win enough money and you can buy that iMac.

August 7, 2008 at 1:05 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

yep.

August 7, 2008 at 1:06 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

one of my favorite questions to ask somebody who has gone all in is some variation of:

"If I fold my cards, will you show me yours?"

what a hoot to read their answer, no matter what they say.

August 7, 2008 at 1:17 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

my follow up questions are better yet.

August 7, 2008 at 1:20 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

I just don't see how it's a tell.

it's definitely a tell.

August 7, 2008 at 1:31 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

It can only be a tell if you bet and I go "fuck me, don't tell me *you* have one of the other aces"

August 7, 2008 at 1:39 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

well, since ten hands dealt would require 20/52 of the cards to have been dealt, and there are only 4 aces in the deck...

and 20/52nds is less than 50% of the cards...

August 7, 2008 at 1:43 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

how many players at a table of four would likely have an ace before the flop?

August 7, 2008 at 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

It doesn't work anything like that.

August 7, 2008 at 1:52 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

another tell!

August 7, 2008 at 1:52 PM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

The first set of beliefs are conventions that you can know or not know, but you cannot challenge.

what an ironic thing to say.

hmmm... well, that sure explains why words have more than one meaning, no?

...

Music doesn't in general have meaning in the first sense, but clearly does in the second.

ba'dum, chsh!

August 8, 2008 at 2:15 AM  
Anonymous P. said...

You two have totally naffed up my "spend 30 mins a day reading blogs" routine. Now no one else will get read - and I'll go to blogger hell when I die.

August 8, 2008 at 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Dr Zen said...

Sorry Z, should have been more precise:

"that you cannot challenge if you want to give the semblance of being connected with sanity".

August 8, 2008 at 8:36 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

yeah, well, i've always said that i was Uncertifiably Sane.

and i certainly don't expect that to change anytime soon.

given what passes for sanity, i find that rather comforting.

August 8, 2008 at 9:37 AM  
Anonymous $Zero said...

and I'll go to blogger hell when I die

so long as we can both speak at your funeral, that seems fair.

August 8, 2008 at 9:40 AM  
Anonymous P. said...

so long as we can both speak at your funeral,

Speak? Fine. Bore the shit out the entire audience - give me Boots any day.

:)

August 10, 2008 at 1:47 AM  

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