Health, Minds, Personal

Truthiness & COVID denial by the dying

Enough people believe enough odd things that I was not surprised when I learned of COVID deniers; not just because the same happened a century ago with Influenza, but also my own former (as a teenager, now embarrassing) sincere belief in the occult.

Indeed, even when it comes to people denying the existence of COVID even in their dying breath (and despite claims that these reports are, if not incorrect, then exaggerated), I find this scenario very plausible thanks to the unfortunate path of my father’s bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer, as you might guess, can require a colectomy and the subsequent use of a colostomy bag. As one function of the colon is to absorb water, skipping it means you must increase your consumption to compensate. My father did not drink more water, and therefore suffered kidney failure just as I arrived for that year’s family Christmas — so I got to listen to his nurse telling my father all of the things I’ve just written about in order to explain to him why he now had an emergency hydration drip going in one arm and an emergency kidney rescue drug going in the other. Despite this, my father absolutely denied there was anything was wrong with how much water he was drinking.

He died two months later.

Opinion, Politics


Hypocrisy confuses me.

How can someone someone be angry to be called a “TERF” (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist), how can they denounce it an anti-feminist insult, when in the next breath deny the existence of Trans-* people? That’s what the acronym means.

How can someone claim that it’s justified for a police officer to shoot dead a child holding a toy gun in an open-carry state where it is not only legal to be walking around with a real gun, but the freedom to be so armed is considered a right worth fighting for specifically to protect against a government that will oppress you?

How can someone denounce one politician for having a multi-million-pound patch of land while they boast about another politician also having multiple millions in property? Or similar with different people for getting close to breaking quarantine rules.

Why do these people call me an “ex-pat” for leaving their country, but denounce anyone arriving as being an “economic migrant”?

Why is it that some will cheer when one person who donated a lot of money to charity and got a knighthood as a result has his statue and name removed from public use when his crimes came to light, yet boo and hiss when the statue of someone who killed tens of thousands is pulled down?

Then there’s the way one presidential candidate was criticised because her husband committed adultery, but the other candidate personally committed adultery and that was apparently fine?

It’s not just right-wing talking points.

I’ve watched people condemn Tesla as if it were unadulterated evil while being adamant that the only reason electric cars aren’t more popular is that billionaires exist.

I’ve seen people scoff at the idea that the UK might not be unified behind Brexit while simultaneously being exasperated that not everyone in the UK is unified behind Brexit. (Brexit isn’t a left-right split, even though quite a lot of loud-mouthed right-wing people think any dissent has to be from the left).

And I’ve seen supporters of the UK Labour party’s previous leader, Jeremy Corbyn, insist that Corbyn was doing better than Blair despite the fact that Blair won elections and Corbyn did not.

I know my left-wing list is shorter than my right-wing list. I can’t tell if that’s me, or the media I consume, or if it’s a difference between the typical supporters of left-wing and right-wing politics. (I certainly doubt the leadership are different, but the supporters must be).


Dynamic range of Bayesian thought

We naturally use something close to Bayesian logic when we learn and intuit. Bayesian logic doesn’t update when the prior is 0 or 1. Some people can’t shift their opinions, no matter what evidence they have. This is compatible with them having priors of 0 or 1.

It would be implausible for humans to store neural weights with ℝeal numbers. How many bits (base-2) do we use to store our implicit priors? My gut feeling says it’s a shockingly small number, perhaps 4.

How little evidence do we need to become trapped in certainty? Is it even constant (or close to) for all humans?