Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Sending Holiday Greetings to All

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Every culture and every religion has a time and celebration of some of the best virtues of humankind.  For those of us who are culturally Christian, Christmas celebrates our goodness.  Whether it be the stories and songs of young baby Jesus, focusing on peace; or the tales of Kris Kringle bringing joy through gifts, these are some of the best traits we can have.   Even the excess of these things, such as the commercialism that preys on our desire to give to our loved ones, are still rooted in something beautiful.

So, to all, however you celebrate Christmas; even if that is not celebrating this day at all, I wish you joy and peace, and to find the best of humankind in yourself and others.  Or to quote Tiny Tim from the pen of Dickens, “God bless us, everyone”

Written by Jacob Walker

December 25th, 2017 at 11:59 am

Posted in Religion

Thought of the Day: “Probability theory is telling us something about the way our own minds operate”

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I have started to read the book Probability Theory: The Logic of Science, by the late E. T. Jaynes.  From what I understand so far, I think there is a high plausibility that it will help me have a more unified and deeper understanding of probability (and hence statistics).   In reading the preface, he makes some interesting observations about probability and human thinking, and it seems quite apropos, and relevant to the recent advances in the fields of artificial intelligence, such as the recent match of Go.

A quote from the book that particularly struck me was the following:

… it is clear that probability theory is telling us something about the way our own minds operate when we form intuitive judgments, of which we may not have been consciously aware. Some may feel uncomfortable at these revelations; others may see in them useful tools for psychological, sociological, or legal research.

Written by Jacob Walker

March 10th, 2016 at 11:59 am

Life Long Learning at 65 Miles per Hour

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I am a believer in getting “more effect for your effort”, as we only have 24 hours in a day, and no more than about 100 years of consciousness with a contiguous self-identity.   Learning, teaching, and creating are some of the most valuable things we can do to have the possibility that our life’s impact will be more than just dust of this planet.  So I am spending more time in my car listening to books, and less listening to news.  These are some practical tips that I have found using an Android phone as my main learning tool.

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Written by Jacob Walker

February 12th, 2016 at 11:59 am

A Brief Unifying Philosophy about Epistemology, Ethics, and Aesthetics

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Philosophy is sometimes divided into 3 areas: the study of knowledge (called epistemology), the study of values (called ethics), and the study of beauty (called aesthetics). I have come to see these as being connected and built on top of each other.  Because, any rational belief about how to choose what is knowledge (epistemology), must be built on axiomatic value judgements about how we ought to decide what is truth (ethics). And our ethics about what we believe ought to be, is originally underpinned by our feelings for things (aesthetics). Although, our feelings will be impacted by our higher thoughts about truth and ethics, and thus there is a fractal cycle of influence.

I am sure there are philosophers who will say I’m all wrong (especially on how I equate feelings with aesthetics), but it does seem to me that whether the words I use are “correct”, the concept I am laying out should survive scrutiny.

Written by Jacob Walker

October 1st, 2015 at 7:05 pm

Posted in Ethics,Philosophy

Is Prudence Ethical?

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A good friend of mind has often said “prudence is ethical”.  As with many things, I believe this depends upon what we mean by “prudence”.

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Written by Jacob Walker

June 29th, 2015 at 11:59 am

Posted in Philosophy

How should we Engineer the Automated Economy?

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In my recent commencement address to the Sacramento Stride Center graduates, I talked about how truck driving is a good job now, but I worry it will be going away.   I am not alone in this concern, as a few days later, on “The Take Away” that I heard listening to NPR, there was a whole news story titled: Self-Driving Trucks Take to America’s Roads.

There is a bigger issue afoot from this: will we be slaves to the automation or will it set us free? Because without deliberate action in the shaping of our economy, economic forces could very well push us to complete monopolies in the means of production.  (Yes, I know you say that we already have government legal safe guards…  but the Citizens United ruling shows a trend towards eroding these to non-existence.)

The following are some proposals for shaping our economic system:

I will discuss each of these in future posts, but it is the last one that I believe would be best for society (as it is best for individuals), and that could be accomplished by strengthening some of the current trends.

Written by Jacob Walker

June 24th, 2015 at 11:59 am

Thought of the Day: “All Models are Wrong, but some are Useful” – George E. P. Box

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While this was written in the 1987 book, Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces (and discovered by me today in the Economist Espresso App), which focused on statistical model building, its pragmatic message has much truth: the value of a model is how well it can be used in context.

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Written by Jacob Walker

June 22nd, 2015 at 11:59 am

What I am gaining in practice from parts of Islam

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In Sacramento there is an ad campaign on many billboards supporting Islam and encouraging people to learn more and consider converting.  This is an interesting confluence with the issue of the Islamaphobic flyers that went out during the past Twin Rivers election, and my connection with those very dear to my heart who are practicing Muslims. And I am asking myself, what can I learn from Islam?  And, what practices of Islam can be of value?

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Written by Jacob Walker

May 24th, 2015 at 11:59 am

Posted in Religion

My own religious views…

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Before I start posting more about Islam, I should probably share my own religious views and beliefs.  They are beliefs that have changed, and likely will change again.  But, they are beliefs that have been derived by being an open-minded skeptic, that attempts to avoid beliefs that are either false-positives (have type 1 errors) or false-negatives (have type 2 errors).

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Written by Jacob Walker

May 21st, 2015 at 11:59 am

Posted in Religion

Some thoughts on Islam after visiting a Placer County mosque

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Recently, I went with my daughters to a mosque in Roseville, which is sponsored by the Islamic Society of Placer County.  This was part of a broader program of religious exploration that my kids have been a part of.  Going there and talking with their imam confirmed to me that most U.S. Muslims, like most U.S. Christians, interpret their holy text in a way that is peaceful and good.  And from talking with other Muslims from around the world, it seems that this is also the case in most places.

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Written by Jacob Walker

April 28th, 2015 at 11:59 am

Posted in Religion