Core · Definitions · Sequences · Uncategorized

Definitions: Truth, Truthfulness, and Honesty


[T]RUTH: That testimony (description) you would give, if your knowledge (information) was complete, your language was sufficient, stated without error, cleansed of bias, and absent deceit, within the scope of precision limited to the context of the question you wish to answer; and the promise that another possessed of the same knowledge (information), performing the same due diligence, having the same experiences, would provide the same testimony.

[T]RUTHFULNESS: that testimony (description) you give if your knowledge (information) is incomplete, your language is insufficient, you have performed due diligence in the elimination of error, imaginary content, wishful thinking, bias, and deceit; within the scope of precision limited to the question you wish to answer; and which you warranty to be so; and the promise that another possessed of the knowledge, performing the same due diligence, having the same experiences, would provide the same testimony.

[H]ONESTY: that testimony (description) you give with full knowledge that knowledge is incomplete, your language is insufficient, but you have not performed due diligence in the elimination of error and bias, but which you warranty is free of deceit; within the scope of precision limited to the question you wish to answer; and the promise that another possess of the same knowledge (information), performing the same due diligence, having the same experiences, would provide the same testimony.

[I]ntuition: (sentimental expression) – an uncritical, uncriticized, response to information that expresses a measure of existing biases (priors).

[P]reference (rational expression) : a justification of one’s biases (wants).

[O]pinion: (justificationism) – a justified uncritical statement given the limits of one’s knowledge about external questions.

[P]osition: (criticism) – a theoretical statement  that survives one’s available criticisms about external questions.

[D]emonstrated Preference: – Evidence of intuition, preference, opinion, and position as demonstrated by your actions, independent of your statements.


Source: (1) Curt Doolittle


Running with Hayekian Scissors


—Hayek’s point about distributed knowledge applies to more than just economic issues. It also applies to social issues.—- 


[W]hile, as I’ve written before, I agree with the general argument that women sense some things and men others (and progressives, libertarians and conservatives different things as well) I have a
more complete theory of the inter-temporal division of perception, cognition, knowledge and labor (and one that eliminates equality, and monopoly decision making), there is a minor error in the logic of the first paragraph, and that is that it is irrelevant that we understand others – it is only relevant that we conduct exchanges with them.

Because their reaction to their senses are not accurate or ‘true’ in any meaningful sense other than as a reflection of the individual’s reproductive strategy – any more than any of the rest of our senses are all that accurate – they themselves are fragments.

This single insight is the principle cause of why democracy does not work, and the market does. The market allows us to cooperate on multitudinous means even if on disparate ends, with our successes and failures informing both us and others.

Whereas a monopoly government prevents us from learning anything of value, and the institutionalization of foolish policy by unexpriable law, and the accretion of bureaucratic self interests, prevents adaptation outside of catastrophic chains of failure.

In fact, monopoly government (monopoly production of commons by majority rule) promotes failure because it is precisely failed policy that permits the greatest rent seeking for all involved.

It is not that we should prohibit government (as Hayek warns) but that we should prohibit monopoly government. It is not that we should prevent taxation, it is that we should allocate our dividends from the commons we live in to the production of commons we prefer, and not to commons we do not.

As, furthermore, so called ‘privilege’ is precious information. It is information that informs you whose behavior you should imitate in order to gain discounts on opportunity costs. Privilege is as necessary to the human information system as is status, property rights, rule of law, money and interest.

Privilege, if it exists, is an inter-temporal store of value that informs others as to the behaviors that they should imitate in order to obtain a discount on opportunities. Manners and language are advertisements for one’s worthiness to engage in increasingly complex inter-temporal risks and returns.

Those who accumulate such behaviors obtain opportunity at the lowest discounts. Those that fail to adapt, and ask others to ’empathize’ with them, are seeking discounts without bearing the cost of adaptation.

In other words, they’re free riders participating in an act of fraud.


–“I don’t see how we can maximize our own exchanges in a given society if we don’t understand anyone in said society.”–

Of course.

I think you are caught up on a bit of language, and overlooking the epistemological argument I am making about the difference between seeking to impose a monopoly by law and justifying it, and seeking to develop many voluntary contracts while preventing theft.

We only learn the truth of anyone’s opinions by what they are willing to exchange. In other words, demonstrated preferences are truthful but articulated preferences are merely negotiating positions.

Understanding is a means of negotiating, not a means of establishing a monopoly definition of ‘good’ or ‘right’.

Source: Skye Stewart – “Hayek’s point about distributed knowledge applies…


Using Income as a Measure Is a Pseudoscientific Distraction

[T]he question is better served by how we spend our time, what we consume, and what we worry about, than any measure of income. Income is a poor proxy for measuring inter-temporal changes in consumption, and is only a useful measure of temporal asymmetry.

What is for example, the cost of not fearing the soviet union, the change in crime in Boston and new York?

Conversely, what is the cost of increase in political friction due to immigration? What is the cost of the conflict over Obamacare? What is the cost of maintaining the post-war empire (probably neutral). What is the cost of outsourcing? What is the cost of failing to reform education?

Income is the least important of these measures. And that is precisely why it’s the topic of conversation: because it is the least important but the most emotionally loaded topic. It is an elaborate pseudoscientific distraction for purely political purposes.


Territorial, Institutional, Normative,  and Technological Competitive Value


[I]’ve been arguing for two decades that we have had 500 years of ‘unusual’ as we spread the voluntary organization of production around the world (often by force), and conquered and exploited two new continents. And that what we see is the new normal. There aren’t enough asymmetries to exploit any longer to maintain the prior asymmetry of wealth.

Or rather, normative asymmetries (institutions) are terribly productive and last for generations if maintained, territorial asymmetries are almost as productive, and can last for generations if trade routes are maintained, while technological asymmetries are decreasingly durable.

Or as technologists tend to say: “technology is not a competitive advantage” because it is so easily neutralized.

Conversely, territorial, trade route, and normative asymmetries produce for the long run.

Hence my (and Taleb’s) concern about fragility. And my concern that the progressive fantasy of technology as savior, and norm as inhibitor is backwards.

Source: Curt Doolittle


The Cost of Learning Propertarianism

(worth repeating)

[P]ropertarianism is like learning any other formal logic. It is non-trivial. But what you get from the effort of learning it is explanatory power. Unfortunately I am a much better philosopher than a teacher, or it would be easier to understand. Also, I’m just finishing it, so you’re trying to learn mid-stream. If I finished the book and you could go back to it for reference, then life would be easier for you (and me.)

Source: Curt Doolittle

Core · Uncategorized

The Most Profound 1000 Words You Can Read On Political Philosophy Today.

(worth repeating)

Thank you for asking me to respond. I didn’t respond on LessWrong’s site because (honestly) I thought it was a rather pointless argument. But I’ll convert it from signaling (the author’s criticism and somewhat humorous demonstration of signaling), from moral to scientific language and I think it will be clearer:

1) All radicals do not fit into the center of the distribution – the statement is tautological, not insightful.

2) We all signal, and signaling is necessary for evolutionary reproductive selection.

3) The presumption of not fitting into some locus of the median of the distribution is a democratic one – that we are equal rather than (as I argue) we constitute a division of cognitive labor: perception, evaluation, knowledge and advocacy. (humans divide cognition more so than other creatures because we specialize in cognition.)

4) Our theories do tend to justify our social positions (signaling) but then, we would not have information necessary to theorize about any other set of interests, now would we?

5) The origin of theories is irrelevant (justification is false), and therefore the question of a theory produced by any subset of a polity can be judged by only criticism – its irrelevant who comes up with a theory.

The vast difference between pseudoscience and science in ethics, law, politics, and economics is captured those few words.

Now, to state the positive version: the solution to the fallacy of the enlightenment hypothesis of equality of ability, interest, and value is captured in these additional points:

6) economic velocity (wealth) is determined by the degree of suppression of parasitism (free riding/imposed costs). This eliminates transaction costs.

7) central power originates to centralize parasitism and increase material costs, by suppressing local parasitism and transaction costs. Once centralized they can be incrementally eliminated. If and only if an institutional means of following rules can be used to replace personal judgement.

8) The only means of producing institutional rules to replace personal judgement (provision of ‘decidability’) is in the independent, common, evolutionary law resting upon a prohibition on parasitism/free-riding/imposed costs (negatives), codified as property rights (positives): productive, warrantied, fully informed, voluntary transfer(exchange), free of negative externalities.

9) Language evolved to justify (morality), negotiate (deceive), and rally and shame (gossip), and only tangentially and late to describe (truth). Truth as we understand it is an invention and an unnatural one – which is why it is unique to the west, and why it has taken philosophers so long to understand it. However, westerners evolved a military epistemology because they relied upon self-financing warriors voluntarily participating, as well as the jury and truth telling. (The marginal difference in intellectual ability apparently not common – they were all smart enough. and such testimony was in itself ‘training’.)

10) We cannot expect or demand truth from people unless they know how to produce it. ie: Education in what I would consider the religion of the west: “the true, the moral and the beautiful”. So I consider this education ‘sacred’ not just utilitarian.

11) We cannot demand truth and law from people unless it is not against their interests: ie: the only universal political system is Nationalism, because groups can act truthfully internally, truthfully externally, and can use trade negotiations to neutralized competitive differences. And with nationalism, individuals cannot escape paying the cost of transforming their own societies, and themselves, and laying the burden of doing so upon other societies.

12) Commons are a profound competitive advantage. Territorial, institutional, normative, genetic, physical, and economic (industrial) commons are a profound advantage to any group. The west is the most successful producer of commons so it is even more important to the west. So we must provide a means of producing those commons. The difference between market for private goods and services (where competition in production is a good incentive) and corporate (public) goods, where we must prevent privatization of gains an socialization of losses, requires that we provide monopoly protection of those goods from consumption. But does not require that we provide monopoly contribution to them. Commons require only that the people willing to pay for them, do so. Otherwise there is no demonstrated preference for that commons. Insurance is a commons and I will leave that for another time. Return on investment (dividends) are the product of commons. I will leave that for another time as well. The central point is that we can produce a market for common goods using government just as we do in the market private goods. But that law and commons are two different things. and that there is no reason whatsoever, knowing how to construct the common law, that government should be capable of producing law. it cannot. Law is. It cannot be created. Only identified.

(This is also probably the most profound 1000 words on politics that you will be able to find at this moment in time)


Curt Doolittle
The Propertarian Institute


  • Ayelam Valentine Agaliba Very concise. With this is it safe to say that you have abandoned libertarianism? Please elaborate your (4). And curt, surely the law may be invented or created?
  • Ayelam Valentine Agaliba Also, i find your tenth and eleventh propositions problematic. Surely the term you are looking for is commons* and not “truth”
  • Ayelam Valentine Agaliba Your 8 is beautiful beyond words
  • Curt Doolittle—“With this is it safe to say that you have abandoned libertarianism?”–

    Well, does ‘libertarianism’ mean Rothbardianism, classical liberalism, or aristocratic egalitarianism? I think it means that I have abandoned the enlightenment, or perhaps, furt
    her reformed it away from pseudoscience and into science? I think it means that I have appropriated the application of the language of economics to morality in the misesian-rothbardian-hoppeian system. I think it means I retain the scientific (competitive innovative) bias common to those who see liberty as a means of competition – a group evolutionary strategy.

    So I would consider myself a libertarian for those reasons.
    I would consider my self a conservative because I advocate for networks of families maturing at different rates, rather than a universalist. And because I am certain that territory, institutions, and norms are more important than technological advancement in the long term. So I consider myself an aristocratic egalitarian, which is a libertarian predisposition. And as far as I understand it, that makes me a conservative libertarian rather than a social or religious conservative.

  • Curt Doolittle—Please elaborate your (4)—

    If indeed I am correct, and that we are genetically biased to reflect variations in moral spectrum according to our reproductive needs: both masculine-feminine(gender) and desirable-undesirable(class), and that as such we each only perceive and evaluate part of the moral spectrum, and that as such we divide the labor of cognition, and that voluntary cooperation is the means by which we calculate cooperative means. Then it is rational that each group that advocates for a particular part of the spectrum would produce philosophical justifications of their narrative – if and only if they lack the perception, knowledge, and bias to specialize in anything else BUT their region of the spectrum. So, as I have tried to show in Propertarian Class THeory, we develop specialists in each of these domains, and these specialists compete using their skills to move the population one way or another: Gossip(religion/shaming), Violence (law/threat), Trade (libertarian). This is a rich topic of exploration and I only started working on it seriously last fall. But it’s a lot of legs: explanatory power.

  • Curt Doolittle—“And curt, surely the law may be invented or created?”—

    Perhaps this is language, but do we create laws of nature or do we discover them? Do we crate means of suppressing parasitism, or do we discover them. I tend to see all our work in the law as reactive, and therefore we identify errors expressed in the common law the same way we identify science through criticism (failure). As such the common law is scientific. Or as close as many can make it.

  • Curt Doolittle—…10th…11the problematic…—
    Yes I fell into a bad habit. We cannot expect ‘truthful testimony’ if people do not know how to construct it. In other words, truthfulness (warranty of due diligence in testimony) is different from analytic truth.

    I have gotten into the habit (that I shouldn’t) of treating analytic truth as irrelevant, and testimonial truth as the only existentially possible that we can know.

    And if I dont’ keep my rigor I will lose people. So you are correct. I will fix it after lunch. smile emoticon

    Curt Doolittle—8 is beautiful beyond words—

    Thanks. From you that is the highest possible praise I could hear.