Ethical guidelines for scientific conduct

 

This post is now superseded by:
Principles of science and ethical guidelines for scientific conduct (v8.0)

A set of necessary characteristics for independently verifiable statements was proposed in the post: The principles of science (v7.5). The idea was to provide principles that distinguish knowledge from beliefs. This post provides a set of ethical guidelines that are derived from and correspond to those principles.

The ethical guidelines provided in this post, are suggested guidelines for anyone who have made the choice to differentiate clearly knowledge from beliefs. These are ethical guidelines that should be observed by anyone who is concerned with the tasks to establish, provide, or apply knowledge in the form of true and independently verifiable statements.

These guidelines can only be interpreted as intended, by applying the definitions in The principles of science (v7.5). That post contains the principles, definitions, and explanations that are relevant to these ethical guidelines. These guidelines are only concerned with the actions that are directly related to the provision of independently verifiable knowledge, and not about any other aspects of the relationship between scientists, their organisations, and the society.

§1 State clearly the premises, inferences, and conclusions of an argument.

§2 Verify that premises comply with the principles of science, identify premises and their sources and make sure that these are readily available for independent verification.

Cite precisely the referred source and identify all information that is used as a premise.

§3 Use logically valid inferences.

Whenever the truth of the premises does not guarantee the truth of the conclusion, identify clearly the argument as a feeling, judgement, belief, opinion or hypothesis.

§4 Put forward conclusions in such a manner that an independent party can verify that the conclusion is correctly deduced from axioms, definitions, theorems, measured properties, and validated scientific concepts.

§5 Put forward concepts in such a manner that an independent party can verify that the concept is correctly deduced from logically valid conclusions, axioms, definitions or theorems.

§6 Define a concept, its capability, and applicable context in such a manner that the concept can be independently tested.

§7 Validate concepts by comparison of predictions from that concept with observations. Only refer to concepts as validated when predictions repeatedly match observations within combined uncertainty of the measurements and the claimed capability of the concept.

Ensure that those who are influenced, curbed, or entitled to the propounded concept or product are also entitled to independently test the concept or product.

§8 Only refer to a concept as validated for the context covered by the validating tests.

§9 Base statements on verifiable data and make sure that data and precise information about how that data was obtained are readily available for independent verification. Whenever data are corrected or disregarded, provide both uncorrected and corrected data together with a scientific argument for the correction.

§10 Ensure that measurement reports contain traceable values, units, and stated uncertainty for well-defined measurands in a well-defined context.

§11 Ensure that prediction reports contain values, units and claimed capability for well-defined measurands in well-defined contexts.

These principles can be reproduced under the condition that the following link is provided together with the ethical guidelines:
https://principlesofscience.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/the-principles-of-science-v7-5/

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33 thoughts on “Ethical guidelines for scientific conduct

  1. maybe you could mention in the abstract (where you tell what you are going to tell) what makes your guidelines ethical – good to whom and for what purpose.
    that might even be the most important bit…lol

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    • I know that I need a few handfuls of definitions as well. It just had to mature a bit, thanks for a lot of invaluable input, I have reviewed your comments on v7.4 about ethics and moral. I´m on the case now, we´ll see how it goes.

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    • Summer vacation has begun. First attempt on an introduction to ethics and morals:

      “An action can only be ethical right or ethical wrong in the perspective of a well-defined moral context that distinguishes a right choice from a wrong choice.

      The perspective on science that has been taken in this work is that the moral of science is: Science should provide true and independently verifiable statements about the issue at hand.

      That perspective on science is based on the perspective that humans got a unique capacity to make logical concepts about nature. These concepts influence how a person perceives, reasons, and acts. Ultimately, true concepts may be essential to the prosperity of individuals and societies.

      That perspective on science is also based on the perspective on human rights that: A person should have the right to not be harmed, and a person should have the right to not be curbed, as long as that person does no harm to others or curb others without reason. It is here realized that any falsity may potentially curb or make physical or mental harm to others.

      In particular, it is here realized that a person defines himself by the things he believes – the things he accepts as true or false. When somebody believes something which is false, that false belief can occlude comprehension of all that is contradicted by it. Not only can a person fail to observe something that contradicts his beliefs, but he can also be unable to remember it. A lie can persist in a mind and be difficult to repair.

      By the perspective of science taken in this thesis, a person should not be physically or mentally harmed or curbed without reason – by falsities put forward as truth.

      As a scientist is free to do whatever he likes for himself and to himself, ethical guidelines for science only becomes relevant the moment a scientific statement, argument, or concept – is applied or published in the name of science – in a way that directly or indirectly can cause harm to or curb other humans.

      Whatever a scientist do for himself, for his employer, or for his customer – is entirely up to himself, his employer, or his customer. However, it would still be wise to observe the ethical principles of science to avoid being fooled, or for the scientist to avoid fooling himself.

      Based on the argument above, the basic ethical principle of science must therefore be:
      First of all, do no harm – do not propound concepts that are not known to be true – as being true.

      Therefore, a concept that is propounded as true in the name of science should be a logically valid structure where premises are true, and the truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusions.

      This thesis is founded on the three traditional laws of thought. To be logically valid, a concept should be constructed in compliance with these three laws of logic:

      The law of identity: ‘Whatever is, is.’
      For all A: A = A
      (In other words: All definitions within a concept need to be clear.)

      The law of non-contradiction ‘Nothing can both be and not be.’
      In other words: “two or more contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time”: ¬(A∧¬A)

      The law of excluded middle: ‘Everything must either be or not be.”
      In accordance with the law of excluded middle or excluded third, for every proposition, either its positive or negative form is true: A∨¬A

      By the law of excluded middle, there can not be anything in-between true and false in a logical concept. In the construction of a logically valid concept we should, therefore, suspend judgment about anything that has not yet been concluded to be true or false. Concepts that can not possibly be concluded to be true or false should be discarded from scientific consideration altogether.

      A true concept can not be constructed by anything false, or anything that is suspended because we do not yet know if it is true or false. By suspended concept, hypothesis comes into play. An hypothesis is here defined to be a statement or concept that has not been verified or validated. If one or more hypothesis are used in the construction of a concept, the whole concept should be clearly identified as an hypothesis.

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      • wow! i’ll be back to study this cuz it deserves my full attention and focus. looks like on the verge of ne plus ultra.

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      • that’s a pretty nice tour of the ontological terrain – felt like flying over in a drone.
        the following comments are meant as conversation of a passenger along for the ride as you fly.
        all the ingredients for a manifesto are here – it could use a trip thru a refinement cycle just to polish up a few spots that are shown to be rough by the highly polished rest of it.
        yu make something so good it makes anything less look awful – and so be it – but you can have perfection with a little bit more buffing. do it cuz you can!
        so here are my thoughts as i take your tour:

        the basis of an objective ethics is respect for ownership and that begins with a man’s ownership of himself – his body, his mind and the product of whatever he does with it.
        2 concepts alone suffice to evaluate any ethical issue: ownership and damage.
        if there is no damage then there can be no claim and only the owner has a legitimate claim.

        ” Science should provide true and independently verifiable statements ”
        by definition, if ‘it is false or unverifiable’ it is not science. ‘should’ is subjunctive and it means ‘does not’, otherwise there would (see that ‘would’?) be no ‘should’.

        ” A person should have the right to not be harmed, and a person should have the right to not be curbed, as long as that person does no harm to others or curb others without reason.”
        a person has absolute right to self possession. if this right is violated then he has a claim of damages against whoever did it. (not whoever told somebody to do it!! only against who did it because it was that choice that directed the action).
        he has no ‘right’ to be free of getting damaged but any damage gives him the right to prosecute a claim for restoration, restitution, compensation – in order of what undoes the damage best. if his legitimate claim of damage is not made better (and he is the one who decides. if the perp doesn’t like it, he should have asked first and written a contract about it) then retribution is the claimant’s right.
        none of these options serve justice if it the claimant alone is not the sole recipient of the reparations as ownership is exclusive by nature. sharing is not owning.

        “First of all, do no harm – do not propound concepts that are not known to be true – as being true.”
        an attempt at deception is a threat of harm. a threat may not cause demonstrable damage and, though it requires an expenditure of critical thinking to avoid falling prey to a deception, that is the responsibility of the owner of the mind – to protect it by validating it before believing it.
        a successful deception may indeed cause measurable damage and be subject to a legitimate claim for restoration. the matter belongs to the deceiver and the deceived to negotiate- nobody else has a direct claim.
        however, the deceiver may find himself in trouble if he is understood to be a threat by virtue of his reputation of deceit.
        bringing force to bear on somebody is a form of deception that is a realtime, 4 dimensional lie.
        there is unquestionable harm done when a person is physically prevented from exercising his right to self possession – some part of his life is literally stolen.

        “The law of excluded middle: ‘Everything must either be or not be.”
        In accordance with the law of excluded middle or excluded third, for every proposition, either its positive or negative form is true: A∨¬A”
        shakespeare’s famous line ‘ to be or not to be’ represents the fundamental alternative in the universe.
        in the abstract it is the basis of cognition and logic and human survival, for every individual, depends on it.
        in a physical sense it applies to organized systems – particularly of interest being living things.

        “Concepts that can not possibly be concluded to be true or false should be discarded from scientific consideration altogether.”
        concepts that can not be proven or falsified are not reasonable propositions, they are mysticism – the opposite of science. they are lies.

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    • Thanks againg for the input. Here is a new version. 🙂
      Scrutiny will be welcomed, as always.

      Introduction

      A set of necessary characteristics for true and independently verifiable statements was identified in the post: The principles of science (v7.5). From those principles, the following set of ethical guidelines has been derived. Each ethical guideline corresponds to the principle having the same number, and each ethical guideline is meant to guide the provision of statements that comply with the corresponding principle.

      [ Edited: Second paragraph has been deleted ]

      Moral of science

      An action can only be ethical right or ethical wrong in the perspective of a well-defined moral context that distinguishes a right choice from a wrong choice.

      The perspective on scientific conduct taken in this work is that the moral of science is: 
Science shall provide true and independently verifiable statements about the issue at hand.

      That perspective is based on the view that humans got a unique capability to make logical concepts about nature. These concepts influence how a person perceives, reasons, and acts. Ultimately, true concepts are essential to the prosperity of individuals and societies. Contrary, false concepts may be detrimental.

      Further, it is here realized that a person defines himself by the things he believes – the things he accepts as true or false. When somebody believes something which is false, that false belief can occlude comprehension of all that is contradicted by it. A falsity can persist in a mind and be difficult to repair.

      The perspective on scientific conduct is also based on the view on human rights that: A person owns his body and mind. Hence, a person has the right to not be harmed, and a person has the right to not be curbed, as long as that person does no harm to others or curb others without a legitimate reason.

      It is also realized that a falsity may potentially curb or make physical or mental harm to others. Even though each individual is responsible for what he believes or not, a falsity that is published in the name of science must be regarded harmful because someone may eventually accept that falsity as being true, and argue that the concept is true because it is published in the name of science and science is supposed to provide true statements about the issue at hand. In that way a falsity can spread within a society or culture.

      Ethics of science

      By the perspective of science taken in this thesis, a person must not be physically or mentally harmed or curbed without reason by falsities put forward as truth. The basic ethical principle of science must therefore be:

      First of all, do no harm – do not put forward concepts that are not known to be true as being true.

      Therefore, a concept that is put forward as true in the name of science should be a logically valid structure where premises are true, and the truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusions.

      This thesis is founded on the three traditional laws of thought. To be logically valid, a concept must be constructed in compliance with these three laws of logic:

      The law of identity: ‘Whatever is, is.’
      For all A: A = A
      (In other words: All definitions within a concept must be clear.)

      The law of non-contradiction ‘Nothing can both be and not be.’
      In other words: “two or more contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time”: ¬(A∧¬A)
      (Symbols: ¬ = not ; ∧ = and )

      The law of excluded middle: ‘Everything must either be or not be.”
      In accordance with the law of excluded middle or excluded third, for every proposition, either its positive or negative form must be true: A∨¬A
      (Symbol: ∨ = exclusive or )

      About hypothesis

      By the law of excluded middle, there can not be anything in-between true and false in a logical concept. In the construction of a logically valid concept, we must therefore identify and suspend judgment about anything that has not yet been concluded to be true or false.

      A true concept can not have anything false in its construction, or anything that is suspended because we do not yet know if it is true or false.

      By suspended concepts, hypothesis comes into play. An hypothesis is here defined to be a statement or concept that has not been verified or validated. If one or more hypothesis are used in the construction of a concept, the whole concept must be clearly identified as an hypothesis.

      Hence, there is nothing wrong in propounding a hypothesis within scientific conduct, as long as the hypothesis is clearly identified as an hypothesis, and as long as that hypothesis meets the principles of science that it can reasonable be expected to meet at the current stage of development.

      Unscientific concepts

      Concepts that demonstrably can not possibly be concluded to be true or false by independent verification, are incompatible with the moral of science, as defined here, and can be excluded from further scientific consideration by that reason.

      Applicability for concepts that are not of any interest to the public

      It should be noted that a scientist is free to do whatever he likes for himself and to himself. Ethical guidelines for science only becomes relevant the moment a scientific statement, argument, or concept is applied or published in the name of science in a way that directly or indirectly can cause harm to, or curb other humans.

      Whatever a scientist do for himself, for his employer, or for his customer – is entirely up to himself, his employer, or his customer. However, it would still be wise to observe the ethical principles of science – to avoid being fooled, or for the scientist to avoid fooling himself. «The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.»- Richard Feynman

      Definitions

      These guidelines can only be interpreted as intended, by applying the definitions in The principles of science (v7.5). That post contains the principles, definitions, and explanations that are also relevant to these ethical guidelines. Definitions that are particular to ´The ethical guidelines for scientific conduct´are provided immediately after the guidelines.

      The need for supplemental ethical guidelines

      These guidelines are only concerned with the actions that are directly related to the provision of true and independently verifiable statements and concepts, and not about any other aspects of the relationship between scientists, their organizations, the society, or the environment. Depending on the context, other ethical guidelines will also have to be taken into consideration to cover the full context of the research.

      Further, the application of a scientific concept may in itself cause harmful. The ethical guidelines provided here does not cover the provision and application of true scientific concepts that may be harmful in other ways than identified here.

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        • As I messed up the thread a bit by replying to my own comment, I post the latest version here, including the two rearrangements you suggested on e-mail. (And delete the intermediate version, replied to myself):

          The moral of science
          Ethics are based on an objective moral standard by which right and wrong are evaluated.

          The perspective on scientific conduct in this work is that the standard of value for science is the abstraction of concepts that are true and independently verifiable.

          That perspective is morally sound because it is consistent with the nature of ´the wise man´ – Homo sapiens, which possesses a unique capability to make abstract logical concepts from observations. His concepts compose his metaphysical world view that determines his reason, judgment, and behavior.

          Fundamentally, true concepts are essential to survival and prosperity of individuals and societies they form. Lies are detrimental.

          Further, it is here realized that a person’s reason, judgment, and behavior define his identity. Belief in a falsehood occludes comprehension of all that is contradicted by it. Once accepted, a falsehood may resist correction with great tenacity.

          The perspective on scientific conduct is also based on the objective moral standard of self-possession: a person owns his body and mind. Hence, it is unethical to harm or deprive a man of his free will (except in self-defense).

          It is also realized that a falsity may potentially curb or make physical or mental harm to others.
          Even though each individual is responsible for what he believes or not, a deception published as science is fraud. Fraud is an assault on reason, man´s basic tool of survival, and consequently is unethical in the extreme.

          Accidental errors published in the name of science can be harmful to any mind infected by them. Furthermore, ideas can rapidly propagate globally, affecting millions.

          Ethics of science
          By the perspective of science taken in this thesis, it is unethical to promote falsehood.

          The basic ethical principles of conduct for the scientist, therefore, are:
          First of all, do no harm – do not put forward unproven concepts as truth.

          Therefore, any concept put forward as truth must be a logically valid structure where premises are true, and the truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusions. A true concept can not contradict its own premises.

          This thesis is founded on these three axioms:
          The law of identity: a thing is itself. (For all A: A = A)

          The law of non-contradiction: A thing can not simultaneously be and not be. In other words, two or more contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same sense at the same time: ¬(A∧¬A) 
(Symbols: ¬ = not ; ∧ = and )

          The law of excluded middle: Truth is a binary alternative. In accordance with the law of excluded middle or excluded third, every logically valid proposition evaluates to true or false. anything that is not true is false: A∨¬A 
(Symbol: ∨ = exclusive or )

          About hypothesis
          An hypothesis is here defined to be an inconclusive proposition. If one or more hypothesis are used in the construction of a concept, the entire concept is inconclusive, i.e., hypothetical.

          A proposition that has neither been proven nor falsified is inconclusive. What is inconclusive is not a logically valid proposition.

          There is nothing wrong in propounding a hypothesis within scientific conduct, as long as the hypothesis is clearly identified as an hypothesis. What is true of a hypothesis is that it is an unvalidated proposition and nothing more.

          Unscientific concepts
          Concepts that demonstrably can not possibly be evaluated to true or false contradict the standard of scientific value, as defined here, and belong in the category ‘mysticism’.

          Applicability of ethical guidelines for concepts that are not of any interest to the public
          By right, a scientist is free to do whatever he likes for himself and to himself. Ethical guidelines for science only becomes relevant the moment a scientific statement, argument, or concept is applied or published in the name of science in a way that directly or indirectly can cause harm to other humans.

          Whatever a scientist do for himself, for his employer, or for his customer – is judged by a contract between himself, his employer, or his customer. However, error or fraud is detrimental by nature. Principles of science are useful to avoid deception of others or oneself. «The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.»- Richard Feynman

          Definitions
          These guidelines can only be interpreted as intended, by applying the definitions in The principles of science (v7.5). That post contains the principles, definitions, and explanations that are also relevant to these ethical guidelines. Definitions that are particular to ´The ethical guidelines for scientific conduct´are provided immediately after the guidelines.

          The need for supplemental ethical guidelines
          These guidelines are only concerned with the actions that are directly related to the provision of true and independently verifiable statements and concepts, and not about any other aspects of the relationship between scientists, their organizations, the society, or the environment. Depending on the context, other ethical guidelines will also have to be taken into consideration to cover the full context of the research.

          Further, the application of a scientific concept may in itself be harmful. The ethical guidelines provided here does not cover the application of true scientific concepts that may be harmful in other ways than identified here.

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        • Regarding your comment on email: «pass it on to your kids». As for myself, my kids are not native English speakers. My daughter at 17 was not ready for it yet, there was a lot of words that she did not understand and she did obviously not feel inclined to discover that it is comprehensible as all significant words are actually defined. Hence, I will have to rely on the way staked out by Richard Feynman:

          «there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in Cargo Cult Science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school – we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It´s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty ..» Richard Feynman – on Cargo Cult Science at Caltech

          However, I got something more – I am now able to identify explicitly the principles of knowledge and the ethical guidelines that can be derived therefrom. Eventually, when the time is right I will pass it over to my kids in its original form.

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        • Regarding your other comment on email: “what’s the next ineffable you plan to eff?”.

          I really thought of ethics of science as ineffable. I would not even have tried if it wasn´t for you.
          You are truly an extraordinary man – making fantastic machines, training lizards, and spending s much time training me in logic, epistemology, and ethics. I hope I can do the same that you did for me to someone else some time.

          I got some housekeeping to do, before diving into the next ineffable. I need to define the most significant words that are used in the text about ethics. I also think that I should merge the Principles of science and ethical guidelines for scientific conduct into one piece that I think should bear the name:
          “Principles of knowledge and ethical guidelines for science”

          I would also like to make kind of a mouse-over function (Wikipedia style) that would make it easier to see the definitions. That will require some tedious work though.

          I also realize that a handful of ethical guidelines that promote scientific conduct should also be identified.

          However, nothing ineffable yet.

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        • It became a lot more definitions than I expected.

          These are the definitions that I think I struggle with the most: abstraction, will, mental, metaphysical, mind, reason.

          abstraction: dealing mentally with ideas
          accept: regard to be true
          Accidental: not intended
          assault: harmful action towards
          basic: forming an essential foundation or starting point
          behavior: a set of actions
          capability: ability to do something
          comprehension: the ability to understand something
          conduct: the manner in which a person behaves
          consideration: careful thought
          consistent: not causing any contradictions
          contract: an explicit or implicit agreement by which a product is judged to be right or wrong
          deception: a false representation of something
          deprive: prevent a person from having or using
          detrimental: tending to cause harm
          ethical: evaluates to being right when evaluated by the means of a moral standard
          ethics: a set of principles that evaluates to being right when evaluated by a well-defined moral standard
          falsehood: something that is not true
          falsified: contradicted by a sound argument within the defined context
          fool: cause someone to accept as true something that is false by committing fraud
          founded: being dependent on
          fraud: promotion of a concept that is not true
          will: the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action
          guideline: a recommendation that complies with a set of principles
          harm: cause damage
          harmful: can possibly harm
          identity: a set of distinguishing characteristics
          inconclusive: can not currently be evaluated to true or false
          infected: being negatively influenced by
          interpreted: made clear
          judge: evaluate
          judgement: considered evaluation
          lie: a falsity put forward as true
          mental: relating to the mind
          metaphysical:
          mind: the element of a person that enables him to be aware of the world and his experiences, to think, feel, and act; the faculty of consciousness and thought
          moral standard: an objective standard by which actions are evaluated to be right or wrong
          morally sound: evaluates to right, when evaluated against a moral standard
          mysticism: a system of beliefs that can not possibly be verified by an independent person
          objective: well-defined, and available for independent consideration where a sound consideration will lead to the same conclusion
          principle: a proposition that serves as a premise in a system of reasoning
          promote: actively put forward as true
          proposition: a set of words or symbols having an intended interpretation
          propound: put forward for consideration
          publish: make available to the public
          reason: a persons use of his mind to draw conclusions
          research: systematic investigation in order to establish facts and draw conclusions
          scientific: consistent with the moral of science
          scientist: a researcher that publish findings in accordance with the moral of science
          self-possession: that a person enjoys, over himself and his powers, full and exclusive rights of control and use, and therefore owes no service or product to anyone else that he has not contracted to supply
          unethical: evaluates to false when evaluated by the means of a moral standard
          well-defined: defined in such a manner that it is only open to the intended interpretation by independent and sound consideration

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          • zomg! more material for the NonContraDictionary the world has not been screaming for cuz they don’t know how very much they need one, eh?
            i can go for that. 🙂
            how much quibbling can you handle with the aim of refining each definition? we can go one step past ‘objective’, if you are up to it. why not absolute?
            found the school of Absolutism and start out with a proper dictionary so the tools of cognition are not elastic rulers and rubber knives. standards matter. when there can be no misunderstanding, don’t lies turn into jokes?

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          • abstraction: the creation of a concept representing a relationship between or among entities
            also, a concept so created

            will: the decision to act in order to produce a desired outcome or to avoid an udesirable one.

            mental: of or pertaining to the mind
            (i have a list of some definitions – i’ll send that later. mind is probably on it)

            metaphysical: of or pertaining to the conceptual model of reality an individual has developed

            mind: a data processor that performs abstraction and decision

            reason: to evaluate the truth of proposition or set of propositions by means of words and logic.

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          • decision requires evaluation, of course
            without reason, there is an automatic evaluation based on conditioning (including self conditioning – humans are famous for it in the animal kingdom) called ’emotion’
            emotions are the passive responses called ‘feelings’ that represent the ‘quality of my life’ meter’s instantaneous value at any moment…
            there is only one axis- pleasure and pain, but that gets sorted by language into particular categories according to it’s usefulness. for example, if one anticipates pain (sad) but is prepared to exercise extreme effort to prevent it (anger) and if he also can identify the agency of it (hate) then he can write a tragicomedy about it for masterpiece theatah …lol
            anyway. i thought maybe that would be a useful landmark for navigation.

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          • what could possibly make it absolute?

            explicit definition of every word automatically composes an explicit proof of every proposition
            and absolute exclusion of the middle eliminates the supernatural

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  2. concepts include concepts about concepts… obviously…lol
    it is true that any concept is a concept and exists in this abstract form with no particular substance but possessing a pattern = an ordered sequence.
    valid ones bear a 1:1 correspondence with reality
    a mind can deal with the categories ‘fiction’ and ‘non-fiction’ very well and fictions are often useful and entertaining.
    there is a category of concepts that are impossible and therefore provoke mirth.
    consider the atom of information, the bit. there can be no fraction of a bit – and yet…
    the set of lower case alphabet letters numbers 26. to represent this set in binary requires more than 4 bits (2 ^ 4 = 16) but fewer than 5 bits ( 2 ^ 5 = 32).
    4 bits is not enough but 5 bits leaves 6 null elements – it needs approximately 4.701 bits for 26 elements…lol
    in real life, we just have 6 unused counter states or memory locations or something…
    i like to fill one of them with bean bran
    especially the reddish green kind
    and a snark in one and a boojum in another
    another thing- purely random signals are random because nothing that came before can give you any clue what comes next. there is no order.
    but lots of data is redundant, i.e., repetitious which reduces its information entropy as if it possessed more order.
    compression algorithms remove that redundancy to reduce the number of bits required to completely represent the information.
    the amount of compression is a measure of the information entropy.
    with information entropy is the maximum, totally concentrated information is indistinguishable from static.
    so next time you want all the information in the universe in its most concentrated form- turn the radio to where you get pure static…lol
    i hope that was all entertaining – it was meant to illustrate the nature of humor (vs superstition) which is the resolution of an apparent contradiction that requires a ‘not found’ return from ‘what.is.it’ function.
    what would we do for comedy if there were no lies?

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      • i was unaware of that one. i tried to find a free download but no luck. it sounds interesting.
        i think i’ve read most of everything she published, though, including the old objectivist newsletters.

        there were a slew of jagoffs who saw an opportunity to mooch off her after she died- t-shirts & coffee mugs kind of shallow nitwits like peikoff & branden i got disgusted and lost interest.

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          • i was looking for ‘the book’ but the next best thing is:
            http://www.httrack.com/page/2/en/index.html
            to rip the site entirely
            5 errors were reported, such as
            “Not Found” (404) at link aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/frozen_abstraction.html
            however that link can be found – so the errors might be repaired. it may have been the rain storm interfering with the satellite conx…
            once ripped, the files can be processed further into one single file and call that ‘the book’
            i don’t have time right now – i’m testing my code to generate lasering code from a colored bitmap. and moar…lol- my list of things.to.do.first is about 100 years longer than i’ll last. never finished- but never bored.

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          • btw-
            aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/patents_and_copyrights.html
            is an atrocity – like a herpes sore on the mona lisa.
            do you understand how that is so?

            she didn’t do a very good job with ‘art’, either – so there’s a territory left uncharted for anybody who wants to make an important addition to her body of excellent work.

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          • It hurts to read it.

            It contradicts the nature of humans.

            The nature of man is to use any idea presented to him as he likes to create any product of his mind that he feels inclined to.

            “A scientific or philosophical discovery … cannot be the exclusive property of the discoverer … claiming it to be true, he cannot demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods except by his permission”
            That is pretty absurd.

            Wikipedia got a quite clear expression of patent and copyright:

            “Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution. This is usually only for a limited time. … A major limitation on copyright is that copyright protects only the original expression of ideas, and not the underlying ideas themselves.”

            “A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention.”

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          • the fundamental error is attributing the property of exclusivity to something that does not possess that property. that’s the distinction between conceptual entities and real ones.
            ownership is exclusive by definition and applies to entities which possess the property of exclusivity.
            the nature of exclusivity is that if one person has it, then nobody else has it.
            the only way an idea can be exclusive is by keeping it a secret. if you want ownership of an idea, then don’t tell anybody – it’s the only possible way.
            anybody or everybody can have the same idea at the same time without violating anybody’s rights.
            any 3 yr old child of 2 understands this: if it ain’t missing, it wasn’t stolen.

            next, ‘ a legal right created by the law’ is a contradiction of the concept of a right. a right can not be created by a law. what is described is privilege. the state has no business violating rights by securing (enforcing) privileges.
            the etymology of the word is “law applying to one person, bill of law in favor of or against an individual,”
            http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=privilege

            next, is her utterly specious argument:
            “As an objection to the patent laws, some people cite the fact that two inventors may work independently for years on the same invention, but one will beat the other to the patent office by an hour or a day and will acquire an exclusive monopoly, while the loser’s work will then be totally wasted. This type of objection is based on the error of equating the potential with the actual. The fact that a man might have been first, does not alter the fact that he wasn’t. Since the issue is one of commercial rights, the loser in a case of that kind has to accept the fact that in seeking to trade with others he must face the possibility of a competitor winning the race, which is true of all types of competition.”
            nope. the ‘loser’ (sic) is deprived of his right to do with his property as he sees fit by force. this is a monopoly, a creation of the state, and causes harm to individuals. it is evil by nature.
            ‘protecting the ownership of potential’ is about as hideous a statist notion as can be imagined, to be sure. the ‘potential’ is a freakin imaginary entity in the first place. until it is manifest in some form that possesses the property of exclusivity it can’t possibly be owned.
            the notion of protecting a winner by making some meritorious person a loser is freakin insanity.

            and finally, copyright was created when the gutenberg press was invented and the sole purpose was censorship. this fatuous nonsense about ‘protecting rights’ is some seriously rancid bullshit.

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