Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

“It’s just not knowable”

On 14 December 2022, the Federal Reserve chairman stated that “it’s just not knowable“, when asked if inflation will cause a hard or soft recession in the economy (see transcript, p.17/23). His answer relates to Fitch’s paradox of knowability: the existence of an unknown truth is unknowable.

Notwithstanding the above, people do hold views on that economic recession (eg, hard, soft, none). All of those views are opinions that are rooted in our 7 Belief systems (eg, Money, Philosophy, Politics, the Truth). Essentially, any belief is a known unknown: we know that we cannot know.

Hence, Jerome Powell was not attacked for his remark because deep down we know that his comment is true. Any economic model is built on assumptions (eg, how, what, when, where, who, why). Even the best of such models are a mere reflection of their (underlying) assumptions.

In my view, most facts are actually opinions. How can a society even function on such a premise?

I suppose many of us use similar assumptions. Nevertheless, most societies are (rather evenly) divided on key beliefs (eg, politics, religion, the Truth). I suppose society still functions because we know deep down that our assumptions might not be true. Still, it’s not easy to change our beliefs.

When people use similar assumptions, the outcome is called an objective truth. The different outcome of different assumptions indicates subjective truths. However, the majority view is often considered an objective truth and minority views “delusional“. In my view, absolute truths are minimal.

Perhaps, our societies are still functioning as a result of common goals, despite our different beliefs. Hence, our need for cooperation is (much) stronger than our (individual) beliefs. Latter would make sense considering the hierarchy of our Needs (#1), Wants (#2), and Beliefs (#3).

There is a 3rd reason why societies are functioning despite different beliefs: the silent majority.

The silent majority is “an unspecified large group of people in a country or group who do not express their opinions publicly.” Despite my writing in these blogs, I do keep certain thoughts to myself for various reasons. The consistency of our deeds, words and intentions is a rather complex matter.

“When you are young, the world is painted in black and white. There are bad guys and heroes; everything is either absolutely wrong or right. [ ] As we get older, we learn that our beliefs are not absolute certainties. [ ] Maturing means that we become more comfortable with uncertainty, and we give ourselves (and others) more wiggle room.

Excerpt of email w.r.t. “Bayes’ rule: A powerful thinking paradigm” by Julia Galef (eg, transcript. video)

Known Unknowns (2021) by Joe Bonamassa
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-artist, Wiki-album+song

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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