What Should You Do About Climate Change?

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Earth’s climate is changing before our eyes, and at a faster rate than given by all previous scientific predictions. The melting of glaciers and permafrost, and the methane burping from tundras and the Arctic Sea; the enhanced power of hurricanes, rain and snow storms, and floods; the swelling of the oceans and the creeping inundation of shorelines worldwide; the unrelenting severity of droughts and wild fires; the acidification of the oceans, die-off of corals and reduction of marine life; and the havoc all these geophysical phenomena play on food production and on the habitability of the many environments both humans and wildlife call home, are all startling clear to see.

The present form of our climate change is global warming, which is caused by the greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, oxides of nitrogen, and volatile organic compounds), from our fossil-fueled economic activity, which is capitalist in either a “free market” or command economy format.

The only way to reduce the geophysical stimulation enhancing and accelerating global warming is to reduce and ideally halt the burning of fossil fuels. Humanity has not had the willpower to do this because it is from fossil fuels that we derive almost all of the power — and wealth — we use continually to each maintain our personal activity, and for us all to power our societies and civilization on every scale of their structures. While there are still people who live “off the grid” within the enchantment of nature as human wildlife, and who do not use fossil fuels at all, they are only a minority of Earth’s people. Humanity, 7.74B souls (25 November 2019) and growing by about 200,000 people a day (350,000 births, 150,000 deaths) burns fossil fuels to live.

The many poor and disadvantaged people around the world would like greater access to fossil fuels and electricity, which would allow them to increase their expenditure of external energy (exosomatic energy, outside their metabolism) in order to work themselves up from the drudgery and terror of surviving at a subsistence level, to safer more secure and comfortable modes of living. Many of the fortunate people experiencing relatively secure lives within the advanced highly developed economies of the First World would like greater access to, and cheaper prices for, exosomatic energy so as to extend the scope of their materialistic pleasures. Whether justified or unjustified, most people want more exosomatic power, and that demand drives the relentless expansion in the use of fossil fuels; and so global warming advances.

What should you do about climate change? There are as many answers to this question as there are commentators, critics, charlatans, careerists, environmentalists, philosophers, politicians, preachers, scientists, sages, saviors, speculators, know-it-alls and know-nothings with an axe to grind. The purpose of this essay is to whet your Occam’s Razor to slice through it all.

Consider the following Bayesian Statistics model problem, “Four Societies,” an abstraction of an extremely complex ‘what to do about climate change’ reality, to help organize our thoughts in hopes of eventually pointing to the correct actions we, individually, should take.

The purpose of Bayesian analysis is to logically select the best course of action from a set of available options, despite uncertainties about the probabilities of the outcomes that may occur, and where the decision-making process takes into account your own personal preferences regarding those outcomes. You can easily learn the mechanics of basic Bayesian analysis by looking up articles on the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Also, I give a patient explanation of decision-making using Bayesian statistics, with examples, at [1].

Four options for configuring our society are presented above (Bayesian outcomes), two capitalist and two socialist. For each of the capitalist and socialist formats there are two economic modes: politically unrestricted economic growth, and highly regulated and politically programmed economic contraction. Each is labeled somewhat fancifully to suggest its characteristics.

The “Billionaire Boys & Girls Club” (BB&GC) is the unrestricted capitalism of Ayn Randian dreams, and such dreamers as Milton Friedman, Alan Greenspan, Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and the many millions of people enthralled by their income-generating activities. These are people who see their life’s blood as issuing from their successful dog-eat-dog competition within a growing economy under capitalism.

The “Green New Deal,” (GND) as used here, is the idea of a 21st century interpretation of the Franklin Roosevelt Administration public works programs of the 1930s, and the military Keynesianism of the 1940s, to combine economic stimulation for the uplift of the bottom two-thirds of America’s standard-of-living pyramid, with a revolutionary revamping of American energy, housing, transportation, healthcare and social services infrastructure, that in sum total aggressively acts to minimize the further stimulation of global warming. The popular idea here is that America’s existential threat from climate change had its analog 80 years ago as the existential threat from the Great Depression and World War II, and that a Rooseveltian-style socialism now would be just as effective as it was then for overcoming the threat.

“Carbon Limited Capitalism” (CLC) is my term for the regulation and carbon-emission taxing of capitalism to significantly, if not entirely, eliminate its reliance on fossil fuels. Objectively, this would mean a contraction of economic activity for quite a while (perhaps forever) since green energy technology, though growing, is still too insufficient to supply the entire quantity of power consumed by our industrialized civilization — as we presently choose to wastefully conduct it.

“Enviro Co-op Simplification” (ECS) designates an intentional simplification of every aspect of American life so as to eliminate any reliance on fossil fuels. This format of American life would be centered on environmentalism, rather than gargantuan consumerism, and of necessity be a tightly interwoven network of cooperative associations and groupings — lots of socialism. It would be the “Certified Organic” model of American life and work, instead of our current ‘Fast Junk Glitz-o-tainment’ isolation-in-parallel format.

Each one of us will have preferences for or against residing in each of these four possible societies, and those preferences can be quantified on a purely subjective basis, as desirabilities D1, D2, D3 and D4, and assigned as follows.

A person primarily concerned with wealth accumulation might choose desirabilities as D1=100, D2=20, D3=10, D4=0.

A person primarily concerned with minimizing climate change and revitalizing Earth’s environments might choose desirabilities D1=0, D2=10, D3=20, D4=100.

There are as many possible sets of choices (D1, D2, D3, D4) as there are choosers. I will lead this presentation toward some general results, eventually.

What I (and you) — as the person in this model problem asking “what should I do about climate change?” — have to do is to decide: what am I going to commit myself to, both in my personal life and in any social and political activism I may engage in?

The two choices given here are for either economic growth or economic contraction.

What is unknown is whether our society will remain in its current capitalist format or transition into socialism because of the force of geophysical and sociological pressures. Let the quantity p designate the probability that socialism will arise in the historical near future in time to organize American society’s response to climate change. The quantity p is a number between 0 and 1. Thus, the probability that capitalism will remain the societal paradigm is the quantity (1-p).

Given “my” desirabilities (D1, D2, D3, D4) for the four potential outcomes (BB&GC, GND, CLC, ECS), and the probability, p, of uncertain magnitude (between 0 and 1) for a socialist transformation, how would I nevertheless quantify my expectations — or utility values — regarding my two possible courses of action: committing to economic growth or committing to economic contraction? As follows.

Here, the symbol * designates multiplication.

Given my subjectively quantified desirabilities (D1, D2, D3, D4) for the four potential societal outcomes, along with the as yet unknown probability p for a near-term socialist transformation, the utility value or expectation (a quantification of my potential satisfaction or dissatisfaction) for committing to economic growth is

Eg = D1*(1-p) + D2*p.

Similarly, the utility value or expectation for committing to economic contraction is

Er = D3*(1-p) + D4*p.

While “I” can pick desirabilities out of my own subjective preferences, feelings and biases, I can only guess — or ‘guesstimate’ — at what p might be. So, making such a guesstimate, I can then actually calculate a numerical value for each of Eg and Er. Comparing these, I would then choose to act according to whichever expectation quantity had the higher value. This is Bayesian decision-making, you choose the action that is subjectively of higher value to you, given your estimate of the probabilities of the uncertainties.

For example, the wealth seeker whose desirabilities are D1=100, D2=20, D3=10, D4=0, and who estimates the likelihood of a socialist transformation at p=0.5 (50%), would have utility values of

Eg = 50 + 10 = 60.

Er = 5 + 0 = 5.

Obviously, this capitalist bull would choose to devote himself to economic growth.

Similarly, the “Earth First” environmentalist whose desirabilities were listed earlier as D1=0, D2=10, D3=20, D4=100, and who estimated the probability of a socialist transformation at p=0.5 would have utility values of

Eg = 0 + 5 = 5.

Er = 10 + 50 = 60.

Obviously this environmentalist would choose to devote herself to economic contraction.

But not everybody is so lopsided in their preferences. An individual pulled in different directions by the need to make a living and enjoy a bit of consumerism, a yearning for greater social solidarity, a concern about global warming, and who has few ideological rigidities might select desirabilities D1=3, D2=8, D3=2, D4=10.

For this mild liberal

Eg = 3*(1-p) + 8*p,

Er = 2*(1-p) + 10*p.

It turns out that for this individual Eg=Er when p=1/3 (33%).

So, for the probability of socialism, p, estimated at greater than 1/3, Er is greater that Eg; committing to economic contraction will have more personal value that committing to economic expansion.

Obversely, for the probability of socialism, p, estimated at less than 1/3, Eg is greater than Er; and committing to economic expansion will have more personal value than committing to economic contraction.

For this mild liberal individual, if they believe that socialism has a better than 33% chance of happening, they should commit to economic contraction, environmentalism and consequently socialism. If they believe that socialism has less than a 33% chance of occurring then they should commit to being an economic growth capitalist. All this is based on personal subjectivities that arise from the confrontation with the objective realities of this American’s life in a world of climate change, and an assumed probability of future political change.

How would you quantify your preferences and inclinations into a set of numbers D1, D2, D3, D4 and p, and then what would your utility values be for the two actions of: working for economic growth, or working for economic contraction? How much are you willing to give up in order to forestall climate change? It might take more than you imagine. [2]

Now, I’ll state some general results for this model problem, and spare you the mathematical details.

For the probability, p, of socialist transformation to be a positive number between 0 and 1 (where any real probability must be within), the desirabilities must satisfy the following conditions.

Both (D1-D3) and (D4-D2) are greater than 0, or both (D1-D3) and (D4-D2) are less than zero.

Given these conditions, the value of probability at which Eg is equal to Er is designated as q, and has the value

q = (D1-D3)/[(D1-D3)+(D4-D2)].

For p less than q, one of either Eg or Er will dominate; and for p greater than q that dominance will switch. The “mild liberal” example shown earlier exhibited all this.

Another general result is that individuals with positive (D1-D3) and (D4-D2) — or D1 greater than D3, and D4 greater than D2 — can be ideologically capitalist and not really concerned about climate change; wanting economic growth under capitalism to strengthen it, and economic contraction under socialism to weaken it.

Similarly, individuals with negative (D1-D3) and (D4-D2) — or D3 greater than D1, and D2 greater than D4 — can be ideologically socialist and not primarily concerned about climate change; wanting economic contraction under capitalism to weaken it, and economic expansion under socialism to strengthen it.

Individuals who only care about economic expansion without regard to either capitalist or socialist ideology, and obviously don’t care about climate change, will have D1 greater than D3, and D2 greater than D4. Their utility value for economic growth, Eg, is always dominant regardless of any numerical value of probability p (which is in fact irrelevant to them).

Similarly, individuals who only care about economic contraction — our deeply committed climate change-confronting environmentalists — will have D3 greater than D1, and D4 greater than D2. Their utility value for economic contraction, Er, is always dominant regardless of any numerical value of probability p (which is only of interest as a political indicator of a national shift to economic contraction).

Finally, for both totally committed economic expansionists and economic contractionists, those who are inclined to favor capitalist ideology will see a decrease in the happiness of their unwavering efforts as the probability, p, of the transformation to socialism increases; and conversely, those inclined to favor socialist ideology will see an increase in the happiness of their unwavering efforts as the probability, p, of the transformation to socialism increases.

Those of you who are charter members or committed aspirants of the Billionaire Boys & Girls Club, or the Enviro Co-op Simplification Movement have no need for this Bayesian analytical method of making the emotional decision of how to conduct your life in the presence of climate change. But for us “regular people” this kind of theoretical exercise can help clarify the mind on what one’s priorities and concerns really are, and how best to focus your limited energies in the face of uncertain political shifts in a world of advancing climate change. What are you and I willing to accept — and sacrifice — in order to forestall climate change? Bayesian analysis is one way to personally come to grips with that question.

My wish would be for a socialist Green New Deal that miraculously disappeared fossil fuel usage without a loss of the exosomatic energy we now enjoy — achieved by some combination of energy conservation and the use of renewable energy (solar, wind and gravity derived) — and that such a transformation of the energy technologies powering our society and civilization were accomplished without further greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, that the required rapid contraction of fossil fueled economies, to forestall climate change, was also simultaneously a societal transformation to a new highly equitable economic paradigm operating harmoniously within the limits of nature. But I know that is impossible. Even the best effort in that direction will necessarily be an approximation to the ideal that is deficient to some degree, perhaps significantly. Climate change may now be beyond the ability — and the willingness — of humanity to avert; the best we can likely do is to minimize our further exacerbation of it. [3], [4]

Personally, I think that Enviro Co-op Simplification Socialism could be alright if we all made an effort for it.

Notes

[1] Bayesian Bargains: Jail, Shopping, Debt, And Voting
MG,Jr., (30 January 2012)
http://www.swans.com/library/art18/mgarci39.html

[2] That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal? It’s Malignant
Stan Cox, (13 January 2019)
http://greensocialthought.org/content/green-growth-heart-green-new-deal-it%E2%80%99s-malignant

[3] End-of-life anxiety and finding meaning in a collapsing climate
Leonie Joubert (20 November 2019)
https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-11-20-end-of-life-anxiety-and-finding-meaning-in-a-collapsing-climate/

[4] Choosing Dignity During Climapocalypse
MG,Jr., (26 May 2018)
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2018/05/26/choosing-dignity-during-climapocalypse/

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Using the I Ching

The I Ching is an ancient Chinese book whose purpose is to aid an individual in making a decision, by estimating the best attitudes to adopt and actions to take in order to fare best given the nature of present personal circumstances, and their potential for improving if one adopted the attitudes and actions recommended.

This essay will briefly describe the Wilhelm-Baynes-Jung edition of the I Ching, which is in English, then why it can be useful to help guide personal action (without mumbo-jumbo), and finally the mechanics of actually using the book.

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I Ching: The Book of Changes

The I Ching is a Chinese book of divination, from the end of the 2nd millennium BCE (most likely), whose interpretation was expanded philosophically during the Warring States Period (475-221 BCE) to describe the dynamic balance of opposites and the inevitability of change in the phenomenal realm. Perhaps the most compelling translation of the I Ching into English appeared in print in 1950. This particular version began as a translation from the ancient Chinese into German by Richard Wilhelm guided by the Chinese scholar Lao Nai-hsüan, and was made during the years of World War I. In about 1927, Wilhelm’s friend the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung asked one of his American students, Cary F. Baynes (the former wife of Jaime de Angulo) who worked as a translator of Jung’s books into English, to translate the Wilhelm edition of the I Ching from German to English. This effort was slowed by the death of Richard Wilhelm in 1930, the death of Cary’s husband Helton Godwin Baynes in 1943, and dislocations resulting from the social turbulence of the 1930s and 1940s. The English translation was completed in 1949, and the book included an extensive forward by C. G. Jung explaining how to use the I Ching for divining the right course of action on a question of serious personal interest to the seeker.

The philosophy of the I Ching is of the organic unity and intrinsic appropriateness of the unforced unresisted phenomenal realm, or Nature, called the Tao; and the dynamic balance of opposites of every type, the ying and yang, whose ceaseless interplay give an illusion of duality, yet which dance is really just an alternation of images of the underlying eternal monism, the Tao.

The purpose of the I Ching is to guide the seeker toward a proper psychological balance for the circumstances of the moment. Such balance is essential when making the significant decisions of a lifetime. The propriety of that balance is defined by a moral code that can be characterized as Confucian combined with Taoist flexibility. The I Ching was already ancient by the time of Confucius (K’ung Fu-tzu, 551-479 BCE) and the coalescing of formalized Taoism (traditionally 6th century BCE, more likely 5th-4th century BCE), which movement identified its founding text as the Tao Te Ching, a masterful collection of poetic logically ambiguous yet conceptually clear aphorisms ascribed to legendary author Lao Tzu. Modern scholarship is uncertain about the historical authenticity of Lao Tzu, and some scholars believe the Tao Te Ching is a collective work by now unknown authors. Regardless, the Tao Te Ching is one of the finest gems of world literature, philosophy and psychology. The Confucian school of thought is one of building up systems of social organization from simple elements and rules. Taoists see society as immersed in the organic whole of a phenomenal existence of infinite fractal complexity, hence impossible to systematize by reductionism. So, the interpretative commentaries that became attached to the I Ching during the Warring States Period were primarily written by Confucians, which infused the I Ching that has come down to us, with sensible and honorable Confucian morality.

For the man or woman of today’s modern Westernized culture, more interested in utility that in airy metaphysical prattle, the I Ching can be used for practical divination by means of intuitive fuzzy logic: a way to reshuffle the imagination to see present circumstances from a fresh perspective, and then to visualize how these circumstances could change into a specifically different situation as a result of adopting a particular attitude or performing a recommended action. The answer is in the question, and both — an illusory duality — come out of you.

The section above was excerpted from a large article on Asian philosophy, see
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2017/03/28/asian-philosophies-oppenheimer-the-new-age/

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How To Use The I Ching

The I Ching characterizes an individual’s present circumstances — specific to the question burning in the seeker’s mind — with an image made of six stacked horizontal lines: the hexagram. The lines can be of two types: “strong” (solid) or “weak” (broken), a line with a break (blank space) in the middle. Given these two types of line, it is possible to form 64 different hexagrams.

The hexagram is an image that appears “naturally” and “spontaneously” out of the the same present reality that is expressing you along with the particular quandary that is occupying your mind. Hence, by analyzing that hexagram as a generalized abstraction of your present, you might find a helpful change of perspective that could lead you to adopt new attitudes and take new actions, which would resolve the concern in your mind.

So, that is the essential value of the I Ching: it can surprise you with a shift of perspective that comes out of your own mind as it ponders the dynamics of your own living. No mumbo-jumbo is required, the modern person can use the I Ching without skepticism, as a technique of “spinning the arrow” and “throwing the dice” in your own mind to get a fresh view of your own reality.

How do you determine your hexagram of the moment? In ancient times, hexagrams might be seen to appear accidentally, such as by a bundle of straw falling at your feet and six or more pieces of straw forming a haphazard hexagram; or the cracking of a tortoise shell, from being roasted over a fire, forming the illuminated image of a hexagram. The appearance of these accidental hexagrams would occur while you were deep in thought about some personal question. Later, methods based on randomness for the intentional determination of the moment’s hexagram were developed. I will describe the three-coin method.

Select three coins; I prefer three different types of coin (e.g., US quarter, dime and nickel). Hold them in a closed hand while you think clearly about a specific personal question or decision you want guidance about. Be serious, the exercise is a pointless waste of time otherwise. In ancient times they would have said, poetically, that the “energy” (chi) and “vibrations” (tao) expressing you while you hold this clearly focused question in mind would infuse themselves into the coins warming in you fist, so they would naturally express “you” when forming the hexagram.

Now, shake the coins in your hand, and toss them in front of you (gently so they land close by and don’t fly away). For each coin that lands “heads” assign a value of 3. For each coin that lands “tails” assign a value of 2. Add these three values to determine the numerical value (or strength) of the first line. For example: three heads has the value 9, three tails has the value 6, two heads and one tail yields the value 8, one head and two tails yields 7.

Begin drawing your hexagram, this first line is at the bottom. The line is solid if it has an odd numerical value (7 or 9). The line is broken if it has a even numerical value (6 or 8). It is useful to mark the numerical value next to the line. Repeat this coin-toss process to form the second line, which is drawn above the previous line. Continue until you have a stack of six lines (the sixth line being the top line found with the sixth three-coin toss).

Now you have your hexagram. Consult the book’s interpretation of that hexagram (and the interpretations of each line in the hexagram), and think about how the images presented could be analogies of aspects of your personal situation: THINK!

From the above, you have gained an interpretation of “you now.” What about “the future”? In the conceptions systematized as the I Ching, any solid line with numerical value 9, and any broken line with numerical value 6 were considered so charged that they could spontaneously change into their opposites: solid to broken, and broken to solid. Form a second hexagram from the first, by changing solid lines of value 9 into broken lines, and changing broken lines of value 6 into solid lines, and leaving lines of values 7 or 8 as they were.

This second hexagram represents a future set of personal circumstances that is expected to evolve out of your present, particularly if you follow the recommendations described by the I Ching in its interpretations of each line in the hexagrams as well as the I Ching’s interpretation of the hexagrams as a whole. Again, the personal specifics come out of YOUR THINKING about how the poetic imagery by the I Ching would be analogous to your situation. If you do draw a hexagram that can transform into a second one, then this “change” is the kind of future-casting that the I Ching can provide.

If you treat the I Ching as a technique (something serious) rather than a game (something trivial), you will find it helpful in many instances when you want to clear your mind of confusion, and arrive at useful conclusions. The fundamental point about use of the I Ching is not “how accurate is it?” as if the I Ching were a mysterious external agency or “black box” telling your fortune, but that the I Ching is a random-process moralistic-poetic thought-triggering technique for you to apply to yourself to aid in your own self-analytical thinking.

Try it. If it helps and you like it, then you’ve gained a new tool. If you don’t find it useful, no blame, forget about it and move on.

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The Bayesian Sandernista

The best thing that could happen to the U.S.A. this year would be for Bernie Sanders to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for the presidency, and then for Sanders to win the general election in November. The Republican Party’s nominee will most certainly be Donald Trump. However, the possibility exists that due to means mostly foul that Bernie Sanders would not be the Democratic Party nominee. If this disappointment materializes in July, then you may find yourself harangued by rabidly passionate partisans telling you how to vote based on their preferences. So, in this essay I present a tool — Bayesian analysis — that can help you to clarify your own thoughts about how to proceed in a period of uncertainty, and to strengthen your convictions in a logical manner. This will be easy reading, stick with it.

The purpose of Bayesian analysis is to logically select the best course of action from a set of available options, despite uncertainties about the probabilities of the outcomes that may occur, and where the decision-making process takes into account your own personal preferences regarding those outcomes. You can easily learn the mechanics of basic Bayesian analysis by looking up articles on the Prisoner’s Paradox. I will proceed directly to our model “general election” problem:

Should “I” (a given Sandernista and/or Democratic Party voter) vote for Hillary Clinton, or not-vote for Hillary Clinton, if the general election is a Clinton versus Trump race?

A “not vote” means to instead vote for a third party candidate, or write in a candidate on your ballot, or abstain from voting for the presidency.

We identify two mutually exclusive actions: vote for Hillary Clinton (vote-H), and not-vote for Hillary Clinton (vote-not-H).

There are two mutually exclusive general (national) outcomes: Hillary wins (H-win) or Trump wins (T-win).

The probability of an H-win is designated by the letter p. The quantity p is an as yet uncertain number whose magnitude lies between zero (a certainty of a T-win) and one (a certainty of an H-win).

Because the probabilities of an H-win and T-win must add up to unity, the uncertain probability of a T-win is the quantity (1-p).

Since we have two actions (vote-H, vote-not-H) and two general outcomes (H-win, T-win) there are four possible specific (or personal) outcomes:
D1: vote-H, and H-win,
D2: vote-H, and T-win,
D3: vote-not-H, and H-win,
D4: vote-not-H, and T-win.

I, the voter, have very personal preferences, or desirabilities (D1, D2, D3, D4) regarding each of these outcomes.

For example, I might decide that voting H and having a T-win would rate on my personal desirability scale at -1000! You can use any numbers (positive or negative) you like for your personal subjective values D1, D2, D3 and D4 for the four objective outcomes.

Recall that specific probabilities for vote-H are: p (for an H-win), and (1-p) (for a T-win).
Recall that specific probabilities for vote-not-H are: p (H-win), and (1-p) (T-win).

My actions in a voting booth will not alter the actions of millions of other voters in their voting booths, so p is independent of what I (or any other single voter) does.

Recall that the desirabilities for the action vote-H are: D1 (H-win), and D2 (T-win).
Recall that the desirabilities for the action vote-not-H are: D3 (H-win), and D4 (T-win).

The expected value to me of any of the four outcomes is the quantity gotten by multiplying the probability of that specific outcome with the desirability I assigned to that outcome. So the four expectation values are:

For the action vote-H expectation values are: p*D1, and (1-p)*D2.
For the action vote-not-H expectation values are: p*D3, and (1-p)*D4.

The best action for me to take (in this model problem there is only a choice between two) is the one which has the highest utility value. The utility for an action is the sum of the expectation values of its consequences.

The utility value for vote-H is UH:

UH = p*D1 + (1-p)*D2.

The utility value for vote-not-H is Unot-H:

Unot-H = p*D3 + (1-p)*D4.

When UH is greater than Unot-H, vote Hillary (hang on, we’re still just talking math).

When UH is less than Unot-H, vote Not-Hillary.

I have taken the definitions and formulas described above, and worked out the general problem for any set of numbers D1, D2, D3, D4, and p (enough has been said that the mathematically inclined can easily duplicate this work). Now, I will lay out the algorithm for decision-making (picking an action) and show specific numerical examples, which you can use as templates to work out your own personal cases.

Define:
x = D2 – D4
y = D1 – D3

The extremes of x and y can be characterized as follows:
At large positive y (y >> 0): H-loyalty, happy to vote-H for an H-win.
At large negative y (y << 0): H-antipathy, unhappy to vote-H for an H-win.
At large positive x (x >> 0): H-guilt, at a failure to vote-H given a T-win.
At large negative x (x << 0): H-disgust, at a wasted H-vote with a T-win.

There are four possible classes of voters for this problem:
H-regardless
Bernie-or-Bust
Between guilt and disgust (over H)
Between anger and happiness (over H).

H-regardless voters are defined by:
x > 0, and y > 0,
and they will be most satisfied to vote-H regardless of any estimate they may make of p (the probability of an H-win). These are the “Hillary or bust” voters.

Example #1 (H-regardless):
D1 = 10 (H-win is good),
D2 = 0 (T-win is not good),
D3 = 0 (I let the H-team down, but at least they didn’t lose),
D4 = -10 (shame! I didn’t support the H-team and result is a T-win).
Thus x = 10, and y = 10.
Analysis indicates they should vote-H regardless of any estimate of p, if they are to be most satisfied.

Bernie-or-Bust voters are defined by:
x < 0, and y < 0,
and they will be most satisfied to vote-not-H regardless of any estimate they may make of p (the probability of an H-win).

Example #2 (Bernie-or-Bust):
D1 = -5 (I hate the idea of vote-H to stop a T-win),
D2 = -10 (damn! I did a vote-H and still got the T-win),
D3 = 5 (an H-win is better than a T-win, and, yea!, I didn’t have to vote-H!),
D4 = 0 (if T-win was destined at least I didn’t waste my vote on the loser H-team).
Thus x = -10, and y = -10.
Analysis indicates they should vote-not-H regardless of any estimate of p, if they are to be most satisfied.

The other two classes require the calculation of the critical probability, q, defined as:
q = -x/(y-x),
which is equivalent to
q = x/(x-y).

Between guilt and disgust voters are defined by:
x > 0, and y < 0,
and they will be most satisfied to:
vote-H if p < q,
vote-not-H if p > q.

Example #3 (Between guilt and disgust):
D1 = -5 (H-win is better than a T-win, but I didn’t want to vote-H),
D2 = 0 (no guilt for the T-win, I did a vote-H),
D3 = 5 (H-win, which I didn’t have to vote for),
D4 = -10 (guilt over the T-win since I didn’t do a vote-H).
Thus x = 10, and y = -10, and q = 50%.
These people will be most satisfied if they:
vote-H if p < q = 50%
vote-not-H if p > q = 50%.

In the above example the voter only feels safe to vote their preference of vote-not-H (and avoid feeling guilt if the result is a T-win) if H is more than q = 50% likely to win the election.

Between anger and happiness voters are defined by:
x < 0, and y > 0,
and they will be most satisfied to:
vote-H if p > q,
vote-not-H if p < q.

Example #4 (Between anger and happiness):
D1 = 10 (happy to vote for an H-win),
D2 = -10 (unhappy with a T-win since I did a vote-H),
D3 = 0 (I didn’t vote-H, it doesn’t much matter),
D4 = 0 (I didn’t vote-H, it doesn’t much matter).
Thus x = -10, and y = 10, and q = 50%.
These people will be most satisfied if they:
vote-H if p > q = 50%
vote-not-H if p < q = 50%.

In the above example the voter only feels satisfied voting for the H-team if it is a sure winner, so they should vote-H only if they estimate that the probability of H-team success, p, is greater than the q (critical probability based on desirabilities) for this case, which is 50%.

Two more examples follow.

Example #5 (Between disgust and guilt, with a lot of guilt-fear):
D1 = 100 (H-win, okay I guess),
D2 = -100 (sad if a T-win, but no guilt as I did a vote-H),
D3 = 200 (I’d rather vote Bernie or Jill Stein if H-win is destined),
D4 = -1100 (lots of guilt over my vote-not-H with a T-win).
Thus x = 1000, and y = -100, q = 0.90909.
This guilt-fearing voter should only vote their not-H preference if they believe an H-win is over 91% likely! Specifically:
vote-H if p < q = 90.909%
vote-not-H if p > q = 90.909%

It would be so much better to jettison the guilt.

Example #6 (Between anger and happiness, with a lot of anger):
D1 = 10 (guess I had to vote-H to prevent a T-win),
D2 = -1100 (damn!, I vote-H and get a T-win),
D3 = 0 (H-win, and I didn’t have to use up my vote for it),
D4 = -100 (T-win anyway, glad mine wasn’t a loser vote-H).
Thus x = -1000, and y = 10, q = 0.99009.
This person is angry about the idea of “having to” vote-H to prevent a T-win, and then that vote-H being for a loser. They should:
vote-H if p > q = 99.009%
vote-not-H if p < q = 99.9909%

In the above example the voter only feels satisfied voting for the H-team if it is a sure winner. If T-team is destined to win, then they want to use their vote elsewhere instead of on vote-H.

Why don’t you try making up some examples by choosing D1, D2, D3, D4 and p? The value in actually working out numerical examples based on your own preferences (desirabilities) is that it helps to clarify your mind about all the possible choices and outcomes you may be faced with. That can improve your self-confidence and sense of calmness about the whole electoral spectacle. Also, it may give you ideas about other types of choices to play Bayesian games with. Enjoy.

The Economic Function Of Energy

Consciousness and personality can be seen as individualized expressions of energy coursing through metabolic forms we call human life. Similarly, civilization and culture and economics can be seen as social expressions of energy coursing through the web of interpersonal relationships we call humanity.

The nature of the forms of energy used by a society (a nation, a region, an economic class) are an integral part of its identity. So, to answer “what is the right kind of energy to power society X?” requires first determining what kind of society X is intended to be.

This means that all discussions about “energy policy” are disguised arguments about the structure (or restructuring) of one’s society; politics at its deepest. Nature itself voices an opinion in this argument in the form of climate change, its response to humanity’s century-long ringing endorsement of fossil fuels, expressed as global warming.

Using technical results I arrived at some years ago (https://manuelgarciajr.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/energy-for-human-development/), I explore this theme in some detail in the following article.

The Economic Function Of Energy
27 February 2012
http://www.swans.com/library/art18/mgarci41.html

The best economic function of energy is to improve living conditions in harmony with nature.

I try to show the types of futures we could have, both desirable and undesirable, based on the choices we make as a society about energy technologies to power our industrialized way of life. You will not find another article like this. Enjoy.

Bayesian Bargains

We are often caught in dilemmas, uncertain about choosing between two courses of action, and sometimes suspicious that “the game is rigged” so that whatever choice we make will benefit a behind-the-scenes controller. One interesting way of exploring this question is to formulate simple idealized situations, which can be taken as analogies to some of the real-world complexities in our lives, and analyze them with the Bayesian model of deliberation. Here is my article about “not missing out.”

Bayesian Bargains: Jail, Shopping, Debt, And Voting
http://www.swans.com/library/art18/mgarci39.html