Saturday, February 01, 2020

Left-wing lunacy spreads because people were led to forget that negative numbers exist

The U.K. is no longer formally an EU member. Millions of aßlickers of the EU were waiting for the British islands to sink into the ocean last night and the naughty islands shockingly failed to do so!

The ongoing discussions about the coronavirus-caused Covid-19 disease have reminded about a very general thesis of mine about the reasons behind the proliferation of left-wing lies, lunacies, and hysteria and the disappearance of critical thinking in general. My thesis is that the character of the discussions, newspaper articles, TV segments, and curricula at schools have led a huge number of people to forget about the negative numbers.

Effectively, a huge fraction of the people makes the assumption\[

\forall x \in \RR, \quad x\geq 0

\] in most of their "thinking" about the real-world problems. The general problem is this simple! Note that the known records of negative numbers first appeared some 200 years before Christ in... China, indeed... under the Han Dynasty. In the 7th century India, negative numbers were practically used for debts. An everyday drill emphasizing the naturalness of a concept probably does a lot of work to make the concept acceptable.

However, lots of the irrational sentiments that "negative numbers aren't real" survived for a very long time. Diophantus – whom we associate with equations whose solutions have to be integer – considered negative solutions of equations to be "false". Gottfried von Leibniz – an overrated man who is sometimes claimed to be Isaac Newton's true peer – considered negative numbers "invalid". But such inkspillers tend to be hypocritical so he still used them in calculations.

In modern mathematics, the existence of objects is settled by a Yes/No answer – the existence is either directly described by the axioms that are invented by the men; or, in a sufficiently complete axiomatic system, the existence or non-existence may be derived from the axioms.

In axiomatic systems that underlie the part of mathematics that is usable to describe the phenomena in the real world, the existence of the real numbers is generally guaranteed. Why do they exist mathematically? Because we may solve inverse problems such as the equation \(x+2=5\). The solution may be written in terms of subtraction, \(x=5-2\), and we find out that subtraction is a well-defined operation.

Well, without negative numbers, \(a-b\) would only be well-defined if \(a\geq b\). However, it is possible to complete the set of integers or rational numbers or real numbers for them to include negative numbers. That's a great choice because \(a-b\) becomes well-defined for any \(a,b\in\RR\) and we don't need to deal with permanent "errors" or undefined results.

Real numbers that are positive or negative may be used to describe all kinds of quantities, starting with the wealth and debt. One's net worth may be positive or negative – the latter occurs when one has borrowed and he can't repay. More physically, the positive and negative numbers describe the component of a velocity. Things may clearly move to the right or to the left and they have a speed. We may unify the information about the speed and direction by using positive and negative real numbers. However, even coordinates themselves may be positive or negative when things are chosen nicely – when the origin of coordinates is close to the middle of the region that we study. The coordinate \(z\) is positive or negative when the point is above the \(z=0\) plane or below it, respectively.

The integers, rational numbers, or real numbers (or complex numbers) that include the negative numbers form a group under addition – a set of elements that is closed under the operation (addition) – and that's a wonderful kind of a mathematical object that is very useful in natural sciences and the real life. Similarly, we extend the integers to rational numbers to allow the closure under division (except for the divison by zero); and we include complex numbers to guarantee the closure under the operation "solve a polynomial equation".

On the other hand, quaternions and octonions (and others, perhaps Clifford algebras etc.) aren't equally "vital" as the numbers up to the complex numbers because they can't be justified by any similar "closure".

OK, I am sure that most of you have known about the existence of negative numbers when you were still in the kindergarten. But I think it's right to discuss the question "why do we have them and whether they're better than similar things" in some more complete, less superficial way than almost everybody does.

Negative numbers vs progressives

Now, the self-described "progressives" claim to want to make the world a better place. The statement that there is "progress" means the increase of something, some quality of the world \(Q\), i.e.\[

\frac{dQ}{dt} \geq 0.

\] Sometimes, the inequality may be demanded to be strict (everywhere or perhaps almost everywhere) for the progress to be genuine. Here you already see a rather clear difference from the "conservatives" who want to conserve something. Conservatives basically believe\[

\frac{dx}{dt} \approx 0 \quad\Rightarrow \quad \frac{dQ}{dt}={\rm max}_{\rm possible} \zav{\frac{dQ}{dt}}.

\] You see that this mathematical proposition is longer because conservatives are instinctively better mathematicians than the progressives. But the line above was meant to say "if things don't change much, the world evolves in the best possible way", if you haven't gotten it from the symbols. ;-)

While progressives think that they can easily target the "quality of the world" \(Q\) directly by changing the world in some obvious ways, conservatives have a greater appreciation for the hard work, cleverness, and good luck that is needed to improve things. Generic significant changes to the world spoil things, like most mutations of DNA. So one needs to look for some lucky variables \(x\) to be changed and that's hard – it's naive to think that we can address \(Q\) directly. Conservatives realize that \(x\) and \(Q\) are rather different things and it's naive to think that a randomly chosen obvious variable \(x\) in the world is the same thing as the quality \(Q\). Leftwingers are more likely to directly worship and interpret physical quantities such as "mass of coal and steel that is produced" or "CO2 emissions that are saved" as the quality \(Q\), not caring much that their new \(Q\) is negatively correlated with their previous one.

This difference in the perspective has consequences. True progressives tend to think about some regime\[

\frac{dQ}{dt}\gg 0

\] (or perhaps \(1\) or some finite number should be on the right hand side) and that's why the conservative regime \(dx/dt \approx 0\) or \(dQ/dt\approx 0\) is out of their radar. They start to forget about the possibility \(dQ/dt=0\) or even \(dQ/dt \lt 0\). The punch line (and title) of this blog post says that almost all the indoctrination that most of the people are drowning in these days is an extreme progressive indoctrination – one that constantly lionizes the growing government and growing regulation.

In the context of the coronavirus, I was exposed to many comments of this kind:
After some initial hiccups, the Chinese government has been quite forthcoming in this case. I don't put that down to beneficence, but [justifications why the Chinese communists are naturally the wisest people in the Universe]...
This kind of writing isn't isolated in our corners. There are lots of people who are eager to play the same role for the Chinese communists as their ancestors played for Lenin and Stalin – useful idiots. What's important is that it is self-evident that they implicitly assume that
the Chinese government is either doing exactly what it should, or it should restrict the people more than it does (i.e. the actions by the Chinese authorities are insufficient)
You know, there exists the amount of restrictions \(R_{\rm opt}\) that are optimal and the actual amount \(R_{\rm PRC}\) that is imposed by the leaders of the People's Republic of China (Czech teenagers may like the English acronym PRC because it's one of the Czech synonyms for F*CK). It is extremely clear to me that the commenter above – and I have met numerous such commenters on the Internet and some in the real life – assumes\[

R_{\rm opt} - R_{\rm PRC} \geq 0.

\] The right amount of government action is either equal to what the Chinese communists do – or it is even harsher! You can see that the political discussions involving such people can't be reasonable at all because they only know one sign for the answer to such questions (e.g. the difference above). They're not just "biased" in some direction – a bias is a natural thing and whether it exists at all is really a subjective matter in most cases. They are "dogmatically prejudiced" that quantities such as the difference above may only have one sign.

They don't really allow for the other possibility – that the difference is negative – at all. Is it a coincidence that such people always choose their "only possible sign" in a way to justify a growing government and eradication of individual rights? I don't think so. This is how millions of people have been brainwashed. So none of them is thinking about any issues rationally anymore. None of them is comparing the evidence for different possible answers to questions. Instead, all of them are competing
whether we will be very progressive OR super duper unhinged insanely extra progressive.
This is how the bulk of the brainwashed people (including morons who hold most of the political positions in the Western world) operate these days – and a huge fraction of the people comparable to 50% are brainwashed in this way, too. They no longer think about the right answers. They think how to be better in promoting the (almost universally wrong) answers that have been pushed into their throats.

If the influence of such people grows, what the results may be? Well, the sign is clear. Our countries will be ever less free, ever more regulated by the governments, and they are guaranteed to be less respectful to the individual rights and dignity than the Chinese system. Well, if people think that the Chinese system is either right or insufficiently restrictive, it's clear that their average will create a system that is more restrictive than the Chinese one.
Click for a 94-second-long video about the Wuhan ghost town.
Meanwhile, those who haven't been trained to mindlessly worship the Chinese communists are seeing a completely different reality. Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak, looks like a ghost town in this video that is 3 days old. The video is scary and resembles some science-fiction catastrophic movies. Of course the reasonable people consider the option that the Chinese authorities abuse the lack of accountability in China and they overreact.

The latest official number of infections is just 12,000 globally, mostly in China. (None of the 200 infected people outside China has died as of today.) The real number could be higher, e.g. 50,000. The death rate persistently seems to be at most 2-3 percent so hundreds of people who are already infected will die. But the "answer" is that the life of 11 million in the Wuhan city has been stopped, disabled.

It may be reasonable to try to maximally reduce the human contact between the people for one or two weeks – so that almost every infected person gets cured or dies. But it is obvious that this regime mustn't continue indefinitely because the damages of this "ghost town" system are vastly greater than the benefits. Assume that 1 week in which you live in a cage and risk that you run out of resources isn't really what makes life worth living. An average human lives for 4,000 weeks so one week of this isolation basically destroys 1/4,000 of each human life.

The ratio 11 million over 4,000 is equal to 2,750. The imprisonment for the city for one week is basically equivalent to 2,750 deaths. By some cost-and-benefit analysis, the imprisonment for another week is only meaningful if it saves more than 2,750 lives. I think that even the first week is questionable. But if the disease is tamed within a week or two and only 50 people die every day, which seems to be the norm right now, it's pretty clear that the costs of this siege exceed the benefits.

The people who are brainwashed don't even manage to figure out that this conclusion is possible, this conclusion should be one of the possible candidates. They are either so brainwashed when it comes to their "numeracy" that they honestly misunderstand that negative numbers – and answers with the opposite sign – exist at all. Or they are so fanaticized politically that they believe that the very discussion of the possibilities with the opposite sign is a mortal sin, an unforgivable blasphemy. At any rate, the Western civilization dominated by such shockingly one-sided skewed people is guaranteed to decay rather soon.

I honestly believe that our societies aren't overwhelmed by such people yet. In the case of the coronavirus hysteria, I sincerely hope that big Western cities won't come under a siege because of a stupid sibling of flu and the video above will remain an example of the difference between undemocratic and democratic countries.

And that's the memo.

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