About this blog

I used to use Twitter as my scratch pad and post the developed thoughts here, but not anymoreMy posts are grouped into four things : uncategorized, opinions, analyses and observations.

Uncategorized has just mundane things that may or may not be of interest, to anyone. Opinions has my views on issues, be it “current affairs” (quotes used to stress that things might not be current at the time of reading) or general ideas. The sub category is : India (for now). Analyses has contents that are basically my attempt at theorizing, deducing and other such “intellectual” endeavors. Observations has stuff not quite opinions and analyses but just what I’ve observed. They could grow into analyses someday.

ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಬ್ಲಾಗುತ್ತೇನೆ. https://kannadayamaloka.wordpress.com

End of an era

yamaloka

I used to use twitter as a scratchpad for my ideas that I would develop at a later time and post some of the on this blog. As much as I enjoyed my stay there, in July 2016 l ran out of motivation to continue to use that platform and deleted my account. However, I recreated the account a month later, in August, in order to ‘protect the brand’ – I didn’t want some one to use that handle after I was gone and people mistake that person to be me.

(more to come)

Proof that God does not exist

Although I myself don’t believe in existence of God, or other supernatural entities, I find what I call proof game – both  parties, religious and atheists, demanding proofs from each other, or providing proofs for fellow members in order to tackle the enemy – quite amusing.

A typical scenario is this. A religious man, extremist or not, talks about existence of God and an atheist, extremist or not, demands proof. After some trying, the religious man resorts to saying “Alright, can YOU prove God doesn’t exist?” to which the atheist says “You don’t understand the concept of burden of proof. I am not obliged to prove his non existence, rather you are”, often in a very condescending tone. The condescension increases as his amateur knowledge of science increases. Such people I call Dawkinians.

The atheist is right in this regard. The accepted intellectual convention is that those who make extraordinary claims are obliged to provide proofs for their claims. However, what is not right is the idea held by the atheists that they have successfully proven non existence of God because the religious couldn’t prove the existence of God.

A cursory survey of such encounters reveals that almost all atheist proofs are a sort of initial condition problem, and like any initial condition problem, starting from a different point will yield vastly different result. Typically, the religious make the claim so hold the burden of proof, which they cannot handle optimally. A nice variation would be instead of the religious claiming existence of God, they simply pose it as a question to the atheists. When the atheists say “no”, emphatically, the religious come out on top – now the burden of proof is with the atheists.

Many atheists are quick to argue that proving a negative is against the principles and conventions of philosophy, thus making it absurd. However, the better informed among the atheists, the Dawkinians, recognize that it is not really absurd to do that and they set out to prove the non existence. They use a familiar method used in mathematics – assume something is true, show that it leads to absurdity, and conclude that it cannot therefore be true. A canonical example of this in mathematics is to prove that square root of two is irrational.

The  Dawkinians treat the claims made by religious people and their scriptures as true and show that there is an abundance of things that happen contrary to the ‘facts’ espoused by the religions, or that plenty of things happen despite the claims in the religions. For the first kind the preferred topic is evolution, and for the second kind the preferred topic is prevalence of crime and suffering. Therefore, the Dawkinians say, there does not and cannot exist anything like God.

However, if you look closely at the proof, you will see that the Dawkinians have only managed to prove that a particular religious doctrine is false. They haven’t proven anything about God. It is akin to disproving a theory that tried to explain an experimental result. Just because rules of logic concluded the theory to be absurd doesn’t make the result an illusion. A cursory look at history of science shows how many theories came and went trying to explain things like light and atoms. Did the disproving of the theories have any bearing on the ‘reality’ of light or atoms? Did it disprove existence of light or atoms?

Religion is also a theory to explain the universe and everything humans perceive, such as thunder, earthquakes, dreams and death. But this theory is based on perception and emotion instead of experiments and analyses using modern scientific rules and ideas.

There are plenty of things that science can’t explain. The standard response to that by Dawkinians is ‘we don’t know yet but we will find out eventually via science’. A religious person can never say something on those lines because religions are set in stone. This makes the atheists believe that they win, albeit in some future date. What the atheists don’t know is that the religious have a trump card of their own – “only god knows best’. Every god based religion can use this trump card and there is nothing Dawkinians can do about it, and it infuriates them to the maximum. The Dawkinains know they can’t counter this trump card because it is exactly same as what they say, albeit based on different theory. Some desperate Dawkinians claim such statements by religious is an informal conceding of defeat because we can’t possibly know what God knows, and God might know nothing. Of course, they don’t see the absurdity of their arguments. It isn’t surprising then that frustrated Dawkinians mock, insult and bitch about religion and religious people  at every available half chance, often unprovoked.

The proof game is indeed very amusing.

PS:

About my belief, I don’t posit God doesn’t exist based on scientific evidence or Dawkinian proof. I just think, feel and believe that there is a extremely tiny chance of something like God existing, a chance so small that for all practical purposes it is zero, but the number nonetheless exists. I guess that makes me some kind of an agnostic.

A cop out one might say, but I think it is the most prudent position. In some way my belief that God doesn’t exist is exact opposite to that of a deeply religious person who believes God exists. Both beliefs aren’t based on any scriptures, but rather comes from intuition and mind which cannot be quantified in the language of mathematics….yet. We just know.

NOW I Finished Hibernating

I thought I had finished hibernating but what can I say…I am a man with diverse interests and in some sense get distracted easily. I don’t quite have ADHD or anything like that though.  As mentioned in the sticky post, I have always used Twitter as a scratch pad but lately grew tired of repetitive &  predictable content there. It may be my fault for not following enough diverse ideas but I thought a long break from that platform would benefit me, and a break was needed anyway, for there are  many ideas on that scratchpad that need development. Twitter is good to convey ideas in fewest possible words (as a software guy I enjoy it by nature), but I miss writing long posts.  Anyway, I am now done hibernating and ready to play around. I hope.

About definitions, and the perceptions they generate

This post is merely a verbose version of the often made observation about how perceptions of things are affected by the definitions given to them. A smartphone is used as an example.

NOTE: While correct, the inner workings of technology are oversimplified, and the historical chronology used is casual, and not pedantic. They are used only as a means to an end, and, thus, not to be considered authentic.

The most recent, also the most pervasive and the most awe, and probably envy, generating, electronic gadget is the smartphone. A smartphone is defined as a mobile telephone that can do more than a regular phone; it is almost like a computer. The last bit of the definition is what causes awe among people. I claim this to be nothing more than a marketing gimmick, and pure sophistry, on the part of the smartphone manufacturers. A smartphone is a blend of two machines: a computer and a telephone. Let us see how it came to be.

A computer is a complex electronic (or electrical) machine that works on voltage levels to store, process and transmit information. What started out as a purely engineering assistance tool has evolved into something completely removed from the original area of application. Most users use this machine for purely leisurely tasks, be it social networking or gaming, or anything on those lines. That doesn’t preclude its use from the original area of motivation, which is still extremely valid, and growing. A computer was originally only hardware, in that a machine was purpose built to solve a problem, and only that problem. Software was a much later invention, but it proved to be a better technology simply because one hardware could be used to solve different problems with it. The software was an ingenious invention indeed. Now, the computer could do anything and solve any problem, as long as it had the right software installed. Nothing was impossible, to the extent that given the right electromechanical appendages, like a mechanical arm, software could do “real world” functions as well. Thus, our idea of a computer -an all powerful electronic machine running software -came to be.

The telephone on the other hand was a very simple and straight forward electrical device. It transmitted electricity, generated by a sound at one end, over long distances using copper wire, which at the other end was transformed into a sound. An electrical machine dealing with sound couldn’t get any simpler. The improvements that followed dealt mostly with better modulation and demodulation to give clearer sound, until radio waves were used. Radio waves were used to carry information, and thus voice. Telephones could now be used without wires. When the general populaton had access to this kind of telephone, it must have been seen as a very powerful machine compared to its land line cousins, for it gave people a sense of freedom -not being tied to a corner of a room, or not waiting in long lines, or not knowing whereabouts of their near and dear etc.

Then came the big idea: smartphone. A smartphone, which is a mobile telephone, is often held in contrast to the “dumb mobile telephones” and shown to be superior due to its versatility. There is an operating system running, like a computer has, which can run different applications, again like on a computer. These applications are often a version written for the phones, and much similar to their computer cousins. Thus it is shown that a smartphone is very powerful mobile phone.

Actually, long before smartphones, the dumbphones that were there were no different. They had an operating system too that was running applications. All functionalities offered by dumbphones were in reality applications running on the operating system. The only difference was users could not install and uinstall their applications. In effect, this was a purpose built computer.

Going back to versatility of a computer, historically, connection to internet was through telephone lines, via dial up modems. Modems themselves are purpose built computers: they translate electronic signals between the telephone lines and a computer. With a modem connected, and the right software installed, a computer can make telephone calls. Imagine this: You are working at your desk on your computer pre mobile phone era and you want to order a take out. Instead of leaving your desk and going all the way to the phone, or possibly to your neighbors, you could just switch on the modem, run the software, and make the call. How magical is that? Not much, because all you did was run a software; besides this is an all powerful computer in the first place.

Now imagine this: You are talking to your friend on your smartphone, commuting, debating on how wise it is investing in the stock market at the moment and you can’t recall the information you read in the papers earlier. Instead of trying to borrow papers from already grumpy co commuters, you connect to internet, on your smartphone, open your favorite web browser, on your smart-phone, search and voila! you get what you want. Information is right in your pocket. How magical is that? Extremely.

At this point we can’t help but ask these questions.

  1. Why was making telephone calls on computer not nearly as awesome as using internet on mobile phone?
  2. Why is the latter case not of a computer being used as a telephone, rather a case of a telephone being used as a computer?

The first question is about as much sophism as the idea of a smartphone. The answer depends on who is asked. A person born in the 60s or earlier would have found it incredible awesome but to a person born in the 90s or later this was commonplace and nothing remarkable. If we can stretch our imagination, the first telephones might indeed have been called “telegraph that talks”!

The second question is important, and the central point of this writing.

Although computers started out as bulky machines, needing rooms full of space, and were maintenance chores, what has remained in people’s imagination as a computer is the desktop, or PC. The mainframes are usually just a thing people have heard of and not seen. Between the desktop and the smart-phone have come a number of mobile, computer-eque devices: PDAs, laptops, netbooks and tablets.

Early business laptops used to have build in modems, and of course, speakers and microphones. If one made telephone calls from one such laptop, why would it not be a smartphone? If a telephone call is made using netbooks, which are lighter laptops„ would they be considered smartphones? How about making telephone calls with a tablet?

Turing the questions on their collective heads, if the SIM card (or other telephony related hardware depending on the device) is removed from a smart-phone, will it be a “smartphone without connectivity” or a “palm fitting computer”?

Some things that come out of the observations so far are

  • versatility implies power
  • complexity implies power

These can be extended and generalized as

  • power implies importance
  • possessing important things gives importance
  • people crave importance

Thus, when all the devices are nothing but computers, purpose built or not, the definitions given to them have profound effect on how they are perceived, be about their importance or their power.

Grouping Indians

Indians have very strong opinions on various issues, and I have found that these opinions are often in conflict when topic changes. On the surface the topics seem unrelated, and indeed most people won’t see the relation, but at closer examination we can easily see the common nature of the topic. There is a definite underlying pattern that unifies various topics when the details are abstracted away.

I have devised a small list of questions that might help understanding the fluctuation and contradiction of opinions. Although this is by no means exhaustive, it is quite effective because it is about ‘hot’ topics, the ones that generates a lot of heat and noise.

I have created a table for each theme. People can be grouped based on the cells they occupy in some tables due to their answers. A person can occupy only one cell per row per table. The insight gained will be enormous, especially if the tables are filled anonymously.

Sense of justice

inhuman

inhuman but

unfamiliar with the details

hyped

hyped because

Palestine issue

Kashmir Pandits issue

inhuman

inhuman but

unfamiliar with the details

hyped

hyped because

2002 Godhra

1984 Delhi

Sense of correctness

yes

yes but

unfamiliar with the details

no

no but

Independence to Kashmir

Independence to NorthEast

Independence to Tamil Eelam

Independence to Kurdistan

Stop at once. Look at the horrific things done

Comen on, don’t mix one thing with another

Relation with Pakistan

Watching Salman Khan movies

About hero worship

Pervert and sicko. Look at all his horrible deeds

Epitome of humanity

No man is infalliable, so why not consider only the good deeds

Can’t care less

Muhammad

Mohandas ‘mahatma’ Gandhi

Thank god for Pakistan

Most Indians’ sentiment is captured in the title when they see the violence that emanates from Pakistan, and not just terrorism. People say had Pakistan not been created, such sickos [sic] would have been part of India, so we must be really thankful.

Really? Lets analyze.

In 1947 British  divided India into two countries – India and Pakistan. Many people migrated from one side to the other, from both sides. That means the sickos could have come over to India as well (although their deeds aren’t as well publicized). Then how do Indians consider themselves lucky?

That is a tough question to answer without being politically incorrect. You see, Pakistan was created on the basis of religion. It was supposed to be a safe home for the allegedly and potentially persecuted Muslims of colonial India. Therefore, many Muslims moved into Pakistan, and due to ensuing religious riots, most non Muslims from the newly formed Pakistan who were already living there  for generations – mainly Hindus and Sikhs – moved out of Pakistan into to India. So, the implicit idea in the statement is that Indians are thankful that such Muslims are not in India anymore, and the finer point is due to the nature of the migrations India was saved.

Lets ignore the sociopolitical aspects of this. The point of interest for us is that the sickos are in Pakistan now.

However, that is assuming all the emigrants (or their ancestors) were bad apples. That’s a bit unfair. The sickos, or their ancestors,  could have always been on the side that is Pakistan, meaning they didn’t migrate.

Thus, there was a 50-50 or one in two chance of sickos being either in India or in Pakistan. That means India got lucky.

But there’s more.

Although Pakistan was a single country, it was originally two geographically separate regions – east and west. Bangladesh was the erstwhile East Pakistan. It separated from Pakistan in 1971 and since then West Pakistan is called Pakistan.

So, similar to India, probably with lesser migration, Bangladesh too had the same 50-50 chance as India’s and got lucky like India. That shows both India and Bangladesh are equally lucky and must be equally thankful.

But  I claim that it is wrong calculation and Bangladesh is luckier than India, and must be more thankful. Here’s how.

You see, although British India was divided into two countries, the division resulted in three geographic regions – West Pakistan, India and East Pakistan. So each had one in three chance of having the sickos within its boundaries.

That means India had 1/3 chance where as Pakistan had 2/3 chance.

Because the sickos are now in Pakistan, and Bangladesh originally had 2/3 chance of hosting the sickos, it is Bangladesh, not India, that must be really thankful.

India can be thankful, but their chance always remained the same since 1947. Had British divided India into three countries as they stand now, each would have had equal chance of hosting the sickos and both India and Bangladesh would be equally lucky and thankful for the partition.