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Peter Kirby

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About Peter Kirby

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    TGL Student
  • Birthday 05/01/1981

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  • Website URL http://www.peterkirby.com/

Peter Kirby's Activity

  1. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic Perfect Gods or not?   

    TheBeast, I don't tend to see perfection as a category that applies to deities. I can't think of ways for deities to be worse or better at being deities. I don't see "perfectness" as applying without context either; a perfect being is perfect at being something...as in "a perfect circle," etc. For a circle, being a set of points equidistant from the center is a property of perfection; yet for a deity, what is it?

    I may have plagiarized Rusty Shackleford in my response.
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  2. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic what is rationality?   

    I've done thinking, Parody of Language, and my thought is that while we would not have knowledge at all without any purpose, there can be cases of "useless knowledge." This is because this "useless knowledge" is formed with the attempt to use the principles developed in more practical spheres. And why do we seek out "useless knowledge"? Assuming that the uses are not merely obscure, they may be on subjects that entertain or that inform us of a social identity. We find it important to have some kinds of standards in these cases (even in, say, sports trivia and American history), so we appropriate the standards of the more directly practical subjects.

    I'm still not sure what to make of the original "prejudice" comment.

    regards,
    Peter Kirby
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  3. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic what is rationality?   

    I am indeed proposing that knowledge exists only within creatures that have a use for that knowledge and that, apart from purpose, there is no knowledge. (Well, I did frame things in terms of 'rationality', but you reframed it in terms of 'knowledge' and I will not quibble.)

    kind thoughts,
    Peter Kirby
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  4. Peter Kirby added a topic in Explore   

    what is rationality?
    Since nobody objected, I have decided to split out this post from the other thread ("Categorization"), which got off to a bad start. I appreciate your patience in that thread, and I don't think that I should have to call upon it again for this one--I am doing what I can to make everything interesting, relevant, and comprehensible. The understanding of rationality is of course an interesting and relevant subject--whether my post is comprehensible, I will tell from the responses that I receive. Thank you for your time to respond in this thread, and I will take the time to respond to your responses.

    On a personal note, I am going to Fresno tomorrow to pick out an apartment and am really excited about Fresno State. Go Bulldogs!

    Parody of Language wrote:



    I know that it's more difficult than what you might think I think of its difficulty. Which is to say, it's hard. That's part of why I took the option of saying that a statement of sufficient conditions was unnecessary for my approach, rather than tackling it head on--it is not only an excellent question, but a difficult one. While the categorization applies to any understanding of 'rationality of a proposition' R(P) and 'knowledge of a proposition' K(P) that satisfies a few formal characteristics, your point in your post still holds and is correct. I might as well have been talking about 'respectability of a proverb' R(P) and 'kewlness of a proverb' K(P), or something else entirely, if I am only concerned with a few formal properties and their implications. So if I want to say something about rationality, I had best to start with my explanation of what rationality is. (Other explications of what rationality is may be possible, and even may be compatible with what I specifically wanted to say about rationality. But to understand what I mean by the word, it is best to give an explanation of it.)

    So I will, once again, take it from the top, but this time stop about midway, after an explanation of what I mean by rationality, so that the thoughts can be discussed.

    I don't want to be caught making bold claims about the Ideal Form of Rationality or somesuch, as though there is only one true explication of the word, so I will hereout use the specific term rational-K. This is "the term rational as Kirby employs it."

    After pondering what I mean by the word, as well as reading a bit on how others are using the word (such as in philosophy and psychology and economics and game theory), I came up with:

    "A belief is rational-K if and only if it is formed from application of a set of heuristics that is adapted to the environment."

    The right half of the expression still needs some unpacking, so I expand on it by saying,

    "A set of heuristics is adapted to the environment if and only if it consists of cues or generalizations such that the resulting beliefs are positively correlated with behavior based on them that is successful in that environment."

    "Behavior is successful in an environment if and only if it results in the satisfaction of the actual goals of the subject (whose behavior it is)."

    And, to conjoin these definitions together:

    "A belief is rational-K if and only if it is formed from application of a set of heuristics such that belief (in the proposition hit upon by the set of heuristics) is positively correlated with behavior based on them that results in the satisfaction of the actual goals of the believer."

    Let me give a few examples of this definition in action.

    "A belief that 'this food is safe' is rational-K if and only if it is formed from application of a set of heuristics such that belief that 'this food is safe' is positively correlated with behavior based on it that results in the satisfaction of the actual goals of the believer."

    G. Gigerenzer claims that we often make use of 'fast and frugal heuristics' in coming to beliefs. Such fast and frugal heuristics in this case might be,

    1. Do I recognize this kind of food? If not, don't consider it safe.
    2. Do I recognize it as being rotten or spoiled or contaminated? If so, don't consider it safe.
    3. Have I had this kind of food before? If so, did I have an allergic reaction to it? If so, don't consider it safe.
    4. Have I had this kind of food before? If so, is it from a clean establishment such as a supermarket? If so, consider it safe.
    5. If I've not had this kind of food before, is it a food that I think is typical for people to be allergic to? If so, don't consider it safe.
    6. If I've gotten this far without disqualification, are people telling me that it's safe? If so, consider it safe.
    7. If not, don't consider it safe.

    How in the world did I consider coming up with these heuristics instead of something totally different or opposite? Why isn't a heuristic, "Is the food the color red? If so, consider it safe," a heuristic cue that I would use?

    Belief that a set of heuristics is adapted to the environment is rational-K, by defition of rational-K, according to this statement:

    "A belief that 'the 7-step heuristic for considering food safe above is adapted to the environment' is rational-K if and only if it is formed from application of a set of heuristics such that belief that 'the 7-step heuristic for considering food safe above is adapted to the environment' is positively correlated with behavior based on it that results in the satisfaction of the actual goals of the believer."

    Here the heuristics could be,

    1. Has following this set of heuristics (e.g. the 7-step heuristic) always resulted in beliefs where behavior based on them resulted in satisfaction of my actual goals? If so, continue using them.
    2. If behavior based on the beliefs formed from this set of heuristics sometimes results in failure, have I also met with a great number of successes such that there is still a positive correlation? If so, continue using them.
    3. If the number of failures is considerable, try to come up with a better set of heuristics.
    4. If the number of applications made is low, consider another set of heuristics if one presents itself to the mind and try and follow it if it seems promising.

    Okay, the logical mind is now saying, what about this list of four? When is a belief that this set of four heuristics is adapted to the environment going to be rational-K? Here the heuristics could be,

    1. Has following this set of heuristics (e.g. this 4-step heuristic itself) always resulted in beliefs where behavior based on them resulted in satisfaction of my actual goals? If so, continue using them.
    2. If behavior based on the beliefs formed from this set of heuristics sometimes results in failure, have I also met with a great number of successes such that there is still a positive correlation? If so, continue using them.
    3. If the number of failures is considerable, try to come up with a better set of heuristics.
    4. If the number of applications made is low, consider another set of heuristics if one presents itself to the mind and try and follow it if it seems promising.

    This is not an exercise in a priori reasoning or self-evident pontification. If the subject has applied this heuristic for coming to the belief that a heuristic is rational-K, and if the resulting beliefs (that a heuristic is rational-K) are positively correlated with behavior based on them that is successful in that environment, then this heuristic is rational-K. If the heuristic is applied to belief that the heuristic itself is rational-K, and if the heuristic itself is rational-K by its own guidelines, then the search can stop, and there is no infinite regress. Application again (and again and again and again) in increasing levels of abstraction would give the same result as the first case of application to itself. There is no question here of, 'but is the belief that the four-step heuristic is rational-K *really true*?' Such belief is rational-K, and that is all. And the belief that such belief is rational-K is rational-K, and so on ad infinitum. (Now, of course, perhaps there is a problem here that I've overlooked. In which case I might have to tinker with the sufficient conditions of rational-K to avoid infinite regress, such as by putting a termination condition on it, such that a self-evaluation of a heuristic settles whether it is rational-K. But I am hesitant to introduce a complication into the definition, and my poor brain is in fact hurting right now trying to figure out the problem. I guess this is why this formulation of rational-K should be considered still 'under development'.)

    Let me proceed to another example.

    Suppose two people were playing Tic-Tac-To, and it was X's turn, as follows:

    X * O
    O X *
    X O *

    The belief under consideration is, 'is this move a good move?' One of the first heuristics could be, 'does this move connect three in a row?' Which reflects that the generalization that good moves include those that connect three in a row positively correlates with behavior that results in the satisfaction of the actual goals, which in this case is (presumably) to win the game.

    Let me proceed to a more interesting example.

    Suppose your girlfriend says, "Does this make me look fat?" And suppose that, to all appearances, it does make her look fat. (Hypothetically, my friend, hypothetically.) The question here is, "is it rational-K to believe that a good reply is 'no'?" One person might be using the heuristic, "is it a lie? then it is not a good reply." While another person might be using the heuristic, "is it a 'white lie'? then it is a good reply; otherwise, look for other cues." The question with respect to rational-K is, which set of heuristics is adapted to the environment, i.e., generates beliefs such that behavior based on them positively correlates with the satisfaction of the believer's actual goals? That does indeed depend on what ones goals are! Whatever those goals are, rationality-K is intended to help you satisfy them through the formation of beliefs that can be used in adapting to the environment.

    Now after all this, you might be saying to yourself, 'that's all fine and dandy, but should I adopt rational-K as my own understanding of the term rationality and its sufficient conditions?' I don't know. I really don't know! I would truly appreciate it if someone else would take the opportunity, as I have now taken, of attempting to explicate the meaning and conditions of 'rationality'. It would be a great learning experience for us all if we could get two or more on the table, a rational-A and a rational-B and a rational-C as well as my rational-K, in order to compare and to contrast them.

    I know that my attempt might not be impressive, but, as they say, 'I have done my best.'

    kind thoughts,
    Peter Kirby
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    • 2,939 views
  5. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic Categorization of Belief, Rationality, and Knowledge   

    Actually, I would not recommend reading it from the start. The first post is heavy going at best. I would suggest starting with this post. This is the post that I care about and really agonized over. In fact I think I might make it a new thread if the mods don't mind me doing so. (Mods, would you mind if I made my post on what rationality is a new thread?)

    Mark, the original post was mostly idle play with logical implication.

    best wishes,
    Peter Kirby
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  6. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic Categorization of Belief, Rationality, and Knowledge   

    If anyone is still interested in pursuing this conversation, I am here and will respond.

    thanks,
    Pete
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  7. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic Advance warning of potential closure   

    Every academic forum I've ever seen that maintains a good quality exists in bursts of discussion punctuated by silence. This is indeed one of the more active ones with which I've been acquainted.

    kind thoughts,
    Peter Kirby
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  8. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic Music you like...   

    My German instructor turned me onto a group called Zweiraumwohnung. I only understand half of it, but I like the sound.

    kind thoughts,
    Peter Kirby
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  9. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic Naming and Necessity   

    In what way would this hypothetical R. Nixon (I'll call her Rachel) be the same person as Richard Nixon, except that each was conceived (in their respective possible worlds) on the same night to the same two parents?

    kind thoughts,
    Peter Kirby
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  10. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic Naming and Necessity   

    Maybe I'm a dolt, but I don't quite get the question, "What if Nixon were a woman?" Is it asking, what if 37th president were a woman? Is it asking, what if the successful swimmer of Frank Nixon's (on that fateful night of Richard's conception) happened to have an X chromosome instead of a Y?

    And my question is, in this alternate reality, why would we identify either of these hypothetical people with Richard Nixon?

    kind thoughts,
    Peter Kirby
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  11. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic So how do you *really* feel?   

    I tend to be oblivious to world events; I don't watch or read any regular form of news media. Up to now I haven't felt affected because no one I know and care about has been affected. But Petra is someone I care about, and reading her message did cause my heart to wrench.

    sincerely,
    Peter Kirby
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  12. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic Categorization of Belief, Rationality, and Knowledge   


    Yes, they are my own words entirely. Does anyone trust me to be presenting my own thoughts when I submit them as such?



    Thanks to the the explanatory critique of Parody of Language (and the insistent questioning of everyone here), I have taken a step back from the idea that one can do without considering any of the particular proposed definitions of "rationality" and have presented an explication of rational-K, the term rational as I employ it.

    So, there may be a rational-A and rational-B and rational-C, the term rationality as used by A and B and C and like-minded fellows. I would greatly enjoy hearing other explications of the term rationality and would like to be able to compare and to contrast them. Some of these explications will entail the formal characteristics mentioned, but some of them will not, depending on what the explications are.

    kind thoughts,
    Peter Kirby
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  13. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic Categorization of Belief, Rationality, and Knowledge   

    Parody of Language,

    Thank you for putting the effort into writing a critique that has helped my understanding.



    I have been seeing this in a different light, such that categories are mutually exclusive subsets of a specifically defined superset. For example, "dog," which has the trinomial name Canis lupus familiaris, and has among its categories the chihuahua and great dane. Ones categorization of "dog" in this context would not be incomplete for failing to include its colloquial ("all men are dogs" or "you're the man now, dog!") or verbal ("to dog your opponent") senses.

    Deprived of a context, the phrase "to know" in English can mean several things. Some of these are:

    a. Familiarity
    "Ya, I know Roger, he's a good guy."
    b. Know-how
    "Let me drive; I know how to operate a vehicle."
    c. Intimacy
    "And Adam knew Eve."
    d. Of a Proposition
    "I know that Pete is bad at rugby; that's why I didn't pick him for the team."

    Since language changes over time, as indeed the third sense is archaic, there can be no exhaustive statement of a word's potential significations.

    With a context, though, words can take on a specific meaning. The context here concerns propositional statements. So categorization in this context is with respect to "knowledge of a proposition." In another context, a categorization of "knowledge," meaning to know somebody (familiarity), might be divided into lifemate, family, bosom buddy, friend, acquaintance, or recognized name, based on how well you know that person. Both would be categorizations of the specific sense of the word "knowledge" used.

    The above way of thinking about words, that they are used with specific senses in context,--excepting of course when they are ambiguous in context--must be so ingrained in me that I didn't think that Rusty was intending it as an objection to what I wrote instead of just an observation on another use of the same word, a statement of a homonym. And I'm still not sure that it's an objection. Can't we distinguish between the types of light, for example, and the senses of the word "light"? I would hardly fault spectroscopy for failing to consider light weights, light reading, light coffee, light sleeping, light beer, light-headed, lighting a fire, and so on.



    I know that it's more difficult than what you might think I think of its difficulty. Which is to say, it's hard. That's part of why I took the option of saying that a statement of sufficient conditions was unnecessary for my approach, rather than tackling it head on--it is not only an excellent question, but a difficult one. While the categorization applies to any understanding of 'rationality of a proposition' R(P) and 'knowledge of a proposition' K(P) that satisfies a few formal characteristics, your point in your post still holds and is correct. I might as well have been talking about 'respectability of a proverb' R(P) and 'kewlness of a proverb' K(P), or something else entirely, if I am only concerned with a few formal properties and their implications. So if I want to say something about rationality, I had best to start with my explanation of what rationality is. (Other explications of what rationality is may be possible, and even may be compatible with what I specifically wanted to say about rationality. But to understand what I mean by the word, it is best to give an explanation of it.)

    So I will, once again, take it from the top, but this time stop about midway, after an explanation of what I mean by rationality, so that the thoughts can be discussed.

    I don't want to be caught making bold claims about the Ideal Form of Rationality or somesuch, as though there is only one true explication of the word, so I will hereout use the specific term rational-K. This is "the term rational as Kirby employs it."

    After pondering what I mean by the word, as well as reading a bit on how others are using the word (such as in philosophy and psychology and economics and game theory), I came up with:

    "A belief is rational-K if and only if it is formed from application of a set of heuristics that is adapted to the environment."

    The right half of the expression still needs some unpacking, so I expand on it by saying,

    "A set of heuristics is adapted to the environment if and only if it consists of cues or generalizations such that the resulting beliefs are positively correlated with behavior based on them that is successful in that environment."

    "Behavior is successful in an environment if and only if it results in the satisfaction of the actual goals of the subject (whose behavior it is)."

    And, to conjoin these definitions together:

    "A belief is rational-K if and only if it is formed from application of a set of heuristics such that belief (in the proposition hit upon by the set of heuristics) is positively correlated with behavior based on them that results in the satisfaction of the actual goals of the believer."

    Let me give a few examples of this definition in action.

    "A belief that 'this food is safe' is rational-K if and only if it is formed from application of a set of heuristics such that belief that 'this food is safe' is positively correlated with behavior based on it that results in the satisfaction of the actual goals of the believer."

    G. Gigerenzer claims that we often make use of 'fast and frugal heuristics' in coming to beliefs. Such fast and frugal heuristics in this case might be,

    1. Do I recognize this kind of food? If not, don't consider it safe.
    2. Do I recognize it as being rotten or spoiled or contaminated? If so, don't consider it safe.
    3. Have I had this kind of food before? If so, did I have an allergic reaction to it? If so, don't consider it safe.
    4. Have I had this kind of food before? If so, is it from a clean establishment such as a supermarket? If so, consider it safe.
    5. If I've not had this kind of food before, is it a food that I think is typical for people to be allergic to? If so, don't consider it safe.
    6. If I've gotten this far without disqualification, are people telling me that it's safe? If so, consider it safe.
    7. If not, don't consider it safe.

    How in the world did I consider coming up with these heuristics instead of something totally different or opposite? Why isn't a heuristic, "Is the food the color red? If so, consider it safe," a heuristic cue that I would use?

    Belief that a set of heuristics is adapted to the environment is rational-K, by defition of rational-K, according to this statement:

    "A belief that 'the 7-step heuristic for considering food safe above is adapted to the environment' is rational-K if and only if it is formed from application of a set of heuristics such that belief that 'the 7-step heuristic for considering food safe above is adapted to the environment' is positively correlated with behavior based on it that results in the satisfaction of the actual goals of the believer."

    Here the heuristics could be,

    1. Has following this set of heuristics (e.g. the 7-step heuristic) always resulted in beliefs where behavior based on them resulted in satisfaction of my actual goals? If so, continue using them.
    2. If behavior based on the beliefs formed from this set of heuristics sometimes results in failure, have I also met with a great number of successes such that there is still a positive correlation? If so, continue using them.
    3. If the number of failures is considerable, try to come up with a better set of heuristics.
    4. If the number of applications made is low, consider another set of heuristics if one presents itself to the mind and try and follow it if it seems promising.

    Okay, the logical mind is now saying, what about this list of four? When is a belief that this set of four heuristics is adapted to the environment going to be rational-K? Here the heuristics could be,

    1. Has following this set of heuristics (e.g. this 4-step heuristic itself) always resulted in beliefs where behavior based on them resulted in satisfaction of my actual goals? If so, continue using them.
    2. If behavior based on the beliefs formed from this set of heuristics sometimes results in failure, have I also met with a great number of successes such that there is still a positive correlation? If so, continue using them.
    3. If the number of failures is considerable, try to come up with a better set of heuristics.
    4. If the number of applications made is low, consider another set of heuristics if one presents itself to the mind and try and follow it if it seems promising.

    This is not an exercise in a priori reasoning or self-evident pontification. If the subject has applied this heuristic for coming to the belief that a heuristic is rational-K, and if the resulting beliefs (that a heuristic is rational-K) are positively correlated with behavior based on them that is successful in that environment, then this heuristic is rational-K. If the heuristic is applied to belief that the heuristic itself is rational-K, and if the heuristic itself is rational-K by its own guidelines, then the search can stop, and there is no infinite regress. Application again (and again and again and again) in increasing levels of abstraction would give the same result as the first case of application to itself. There is no question here of, 'but is the belief that the four-step heuristic is rational-K *really true*?' Such belief is rational-K, and that is all. And the belief that such belief is rational-K is rational-K, and so on ad infinitum. (Now, of course, perhaps there is a problem here that I've overlooked. In which case I might have to tinker with the sufficient conditions of rational-K to avoid infinite regress, such as by putting a termination condition on it, such that a self-evaluation of a heuristic settles whether it is rational-K. But I am hesitant to introduce a complication into the definition, and my poor brain is in fact hurting right now trying to figure out the problem. I guess this is why this formulation of rational-K should be considered still 'under development'.)

    Let me proceed to another example.

    Suppose two people were playing Tic-Tac-To, and it was X's turn, as follows:

    X * O
    O X *
    X O *

    The belief under consideration is, 'is this move a good move?' One of the first heuristics could be, 'does this move connect three in a row?' Which reflects that the generalization that good moves include those that connect three in a row positively correlates with behavior that results in the satisfaction of the actual goals, which in this case is (presumably) to win the game.

    Let me proceed to a more interesting example.

    Suppose your girlfriend says, "Does this make me look fat?" And suppose that, to all appearances, it does make her look fat. (Hypothetically, my friend, hypothetically.) The question here is, "is it rational-K to believe that a good reply is 'no'?" One person might be using the heuristic, "is it a lie? then it is not a good reply." While another person might be using the heuristic, "is it a 'white lie'? then it is a good reply; otherwise, look for other cues." The question with respect to rational-K is, which set of heuristics is adapted to the environment, i.e., generates beliefs such that behavior based on them positively correlates with the satisfaction of the believer's actual goals? That does indeed depend on what ones goals are! Whatever those goals are, rationality-K is intended to help you satisfy them through the formation of beliefs that can be used in adapting to the environment.

    Now after all this, you might be saying to yourself, 'that's all fine and dandy, but should I adopt rational-K as my own understanding of the term rationality and its sufficient conditions?' I don't know. I really don't know! I would truly appreciate it if someone else would take the opportunity, as I have now taken, of attempting to explicate the meaning and conditions of 'rationality'. It would be a great learning experience for us all if we could get two or more on the table, a rational-A and a rational-B and a rational-C as well as my rational-K, in order to compare and to contrast them.

    I know that my attempt might not be impressive, but, as they say, 'I have done my best.'

    kind thoughts,
    Peter Kirby

    edit: two minor oversights
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  14. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic A few words of clarification   

    I agree. In case anyone does need a refresher on the site aims, they are...


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  15. Peter Kirby added a post in a topic Categorization of Belief, Rationality, and Knowledge   

    Am I interested in learning? Of course I am. I am insulted by the assumption that I am not.

    Am I interested in adapting my ideas when critiqued? Yes! Let them be critiqued. I want them to be. And I want to learn from the critique.

    Here is what I have noticed from responses so far.

    1. Rusty: What about nonpropositional "know how" knowledge?
    Response: That's a different sort of knowledge than the sort under consideration.

    2. Hugo: How does one determine the rationality of a proposition?
    Response: The schema presupposes that we have ideas about the rationality of propositions. It doesn't propose to tell us how to acquire those ideas.

    I explained this response in detail, in three previous posts, and I am told that I am avoiding the question.

    There was also some of talk about how I didn't write about why the reader should read what I am writing, a statement that I made unsupported assertions, etc., but that was before the fresh attempt at explanation was made. I certainly did adapt to that critique, and I will adapt to any future critique, by modifying my ideas or even abandoning them as the case may be.

    Now, perhaps what you want to talk about here is 'how do we tell what is rational?' And that is why you are saying that I am dodging and avoiding questions, because I am not discussing the various answers to your question, but telling you that the specific answer to your question does not affect the ideas presented by me in this thread. The most charitable approach would be to accept or, if not to accept, to critique that response which I have developed. It is not to accuse me of not being interested in learning.

    As I said before, if you or someone else wants to discuss the various solutions proposed to your question, he or she is free to do so. And I will read such discussion and learn from it.

    kind thoughts,
    Peter Kirby
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