by Eric Hart

The last issue of Noesis, compiled by Chris Cole, contains some interesting reading. I hope no one will mind if I construe an invitation to enlarge on some of its themes. Consider it pre­paratory reading for this issue, the conceptual continuity of which may be enhanced by the following preliminary observations.

The thesis that we are somehow analogous to "brains in a vat" is independent of all axioms effective within this reality, and is thus irrelevant to our lives therein; it has a metaphysical character and bears only upon the meaning of this life within the higher realm it purports to describe. Whereas, the inability to regress within reality itself, by limiting our acquisition of "practical" knowledge, bears strongly on all our data-intensive interactions. However, the mental limitations of those who cannot solve problems or resolve paradoxes may have a more individualized nature. The operative distinction is that between logical limits on data acquisition, and assemblative and computative limitations in data recognition and in the manipulation and transformation of acquired data. To promote the intelligence of the human species, we must calibrate these and other such measures of intelligence.

I therefore give a brief account of the ongoing search for the principles of human intellection. This search may eventually allow a resurgence of intellectual psychometrics, which has suffered greatly in popular acceptance due to its wealth of theoretic gaps and inconsistencies. The discussion is elementary, since I'm not sure how many readers are familiar with more advanced terminology.

While I'd never heard of the Allais paradox before Chris wrote about it, I happen to be familiar with some of the principles relevant to its solution. Without claiming detailed knowledge of its complete history. I sketch a rough account of my own thoughts concerning it. Because "Bayesian regression" is not crucial to the central issues, I've shorted that part of the discussion (in view of the sporadic exchange of perspectives on that topic, I thought it better left to its previous expositors...though I do have a definite opinion, having answered 67% on the original "marble problem"). The article is an abbreviation of a more detailed first. draft, which is probably a bit too involved for casual readers.

Cerebral functionability has structural, dynamical, and program­matic phases. If a certain interpretation of the Allais paradox - that its subjects are acting irrationally - is valid, then most human beings have rationality-preclusive cerebral parameters and/or irrational neural programming. We will see, largely on the basis of an advanced perspective on economics, that this interpre­tation is improperly derived. The data on which it centers are consistent with another interpretation: that the subjects are in fact acting rationally (relative to the distributional tendencies roughly described in issue no. 40), and that the contrary analytic perspective is itself incomplete and so irrational.

The distinction between rationality and irrationality implies a distinction between those who cannot reason correctly in the Allais content, and those capable of either resolving the paradox or following and internalising the reasoning of one who can. This suits the thesis that not all human brains are equal in potential. It does not. however, confirm the inherent irrationality of neural networks or of the analog reasoning by which they function. Neural computation, in theoretic equivalence to its digital counterpart, is not inimical to the arbitrary implementation, interpretation, or recursive extension of logical grammars.

The second article addresses only those aspects of the Allais paradox explicitly mentioned in Noesis no. 40. Since I wrote it, it has come to my attention that Allais himself also denies the premise, as derived from certain controversial axiomatisations of rational preference, that the data imply subjective irrationality. Specifical1y, he disputes the risk-insensitive "principle (axiom) of independence" on which Von Neumann and Morgenstern based their "neo-Bernoullian formulation", an attempt to generalize Daniel Bernoulli's bounded -formulation of cardinal utility (created by Bernoulli to resolve his own "St. Petersburg paradox", a central issue in game theory). However, Allais argues from statistics and psychology, ignoring the purely logical side of his own position. He thus fails - along with the neo-Bernoullians he attacks - to recognize that only the naive interpretation, and not the content, of the independence axiom prevents allowance for the "psychology of risk". Certain other considerations go entirely unmentioned.

Thus, both Allais and his neo-Bernoul1ian adversaries appear to overlook factors critical to the issue. Again, the spectre of irrationality looms: no sooner have we vindicated the participants in the test surveys than we indict the analysts themselves. This is all the more disquieting as said analysts might ordinarily be considered "more intelligent" than the subjects of their samples. Either the demands of rationality escalate through rising levels of thought, and/or the analysts of these data are unable to defeat irrational assumptions inherited from their tutors (an hypothesis seemingly embraced by Allais, who condemns the "dogmatic and intolerant, powerful and tyrannical domination over the academic world" exercised by his opponents). This serves only to amplify the premise that some brains are not as rational as others. More importantly, it marks a potential for improvement in the structure and programming of even above-average humah brains.

The final article enunciates and extends this theme in a socio-politically motivated discussion of eugenics, an agendum many will not support for fear of being somehow associated with certain unpopular historical figures. I should point out that I consider unacceptable the abuse or belittlernent of anyone by reason of low, average, or insufficientiy above-average intelligence. The subject nonetheless requires honesty, and I have tried to limit my assertions to those I consider obvious as well as demonstrable. While the material is intended to place no one in a defensive pos­ture. I can only be so apologetic for its somewhat homiletic tone. My regards to the members, who I hope will forgive the bad print.



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