BASTIAT FREE UNIVERSITY
rediscover the pleasure of self directed learning
BFU - self directed learning for visionaries
Bastiat Free University
" We cannot but be astonished at the ease with which men resign themselves to ignorance about what is most important for them to know; and we may be certain that they are determined to remain invincibly ignorant if they once come to consider it as axiomatic that there are no absolute principles." - Claude Frédéric Bastiat
Bastiat Free University
exploring complex human interactions through logic and observation.
Social science; politics, psychology, war, history, sociology, economics, etcetera may be understood after observation and cogitation. Developing mathematical models to explain or project events obfuscates reality. Much more concise than obtuse math is Mark Twain's comment, "History does not repeat itself, it rhymes."
We will center our learning on well thought out, logical explanations that may be tested in the real world, or at least debated in the real world. There is an elegance to Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs that does not need, and can not use, math for validation. Likewise the Austrian School of economists deal elegantly using the observed without highly complicated math structures, they call this the science of human action.
"The huge advantage of Austrian economics is that it is not only true, but easily understood, as there are so few maxims, no interlocking, mysterious mechanisms and no math." - Richard Daughty, The Great Magumbo Guru (TGMG)
Is there a difference between Social Science and Human Interaction?
The social sciences have become exclusive clubs defined by secret passwords of their vocabulary. Their emphasis on physical empiricism provides a shared illusion of knowledge. Mathematics is differentiating gang sign of an exclusionary soft science aristocracy. It doesn't matter to the gang that their math doesn't work*, what matters is they all share the same illusions.
Perhaps that is why Maslow, F. A. Hayek, and others of their ilk are seldom taught in depth at high status universities. They find it much easier to talk of B. F. Skinner and his refuting consciousness.
As creative thinkers Maslow and Hayek have made real knowledge easily apprehended. It is an intuitive rather than an empirical process, a reasoning process that does not demand physical proofs. This of course runs counter to current intellectual fashion that states knowledge must be measurable. The science of human action is instead tied to the individual and their emotional power of choice. Desire can not be measured.
"Man's wants are not static, but progressive. Hardly has man got himself a shelter when he wants a house; hardly has he clothed himself when he wants adornment; hardly has he satisfied the need of his body when study, knowledge, art open to his desires a new endless vista." - Bastiat
The stereotyping of large groups was convenient for generalities, but also inaccurate. As we move further out of the industrial age the Netcohort and those they influence will become increasingly more difficult to fit under a standard bell shaped curve.
In These courses you will be returning to the conceptual framework of deep thinkers. There are concepts that have been rendered as proverbs and stories; parables that present truth in a memorable fashion. Much of this is reminiscent of folk tunes whose cadence and harmonies were harvested for great overtures and symphonies. We will seek out these jewels, or more frequently find those who have already orchestrated knowledge for us. Frequently we will discover what we thought was new had been discovered and lost many times before.
"Tim was so learned, that he could name a horse in nine Languages. So ignorant, that he bought a cow to ride on." - Ben Franklin
Rediscover the pleasure of self directed learning
Discover the Human Interaction difference.
Our first course in Human Interaction will feature Socionomics, a two volume set, as a first read. Also read the free PDF download The Law by Bastiat. For the second course read Bastiat's What is Seen and What is Not Seen; and we will also look at a couple of novel approaches to social problems from unorthodox thinkers; Hernando de Soto and Doug Casey. We will read de Soto's book, The Mystery of Capital. Casey has not written a book recently, if you can find one of his at a used book store it will be a worthwhile read. I particularly like The International Man, and hope Casey updates it soon. There is no charge to get started in any of our classes other than the very reasonable cost of books; go ahead and start now.
"The solution to the social problem lies in liberty." - Bastiat
Investigate our master's courses including a link to the informative personal site of Dr. Nassim Taleb, the author of Fooled by Randomness and creator of course H501, Thoughtful Influences. We are also looking forward to new offerings within the Netcohort Institute starting in 2008.
"I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. All I care to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can't be any worse." - Mark Twain
*A rant by the BFU Rector about mathematics and the soft sciences.
Our modern academics love the validity they accrue by applying math to sociology, anthropology, or political science. If they convolute math enough they can claim to "prove" any harebrained concept. They have to assume so much, and modify math or the discipline so much; either the math or the reality it supposedly represents becomes a joke.
An economist came to a horse handicapper and said he had found a perfect way to predict the winner in horse races. The gambler became excited; no more reading stats, comparing jockeys, watching weather, etc. In other words winning would no longer be hard work and risk. The bookie took the economist off to one side and asked for a hint to the process. The economist said " well, first we assume horses are ellipses."
Economics is about people as individuals. Sociology and psychology are about people. We are people, and we know a lot of what we do is not rational. All of us irrational beings do not suddenly become rational when we form a large group. We become far less rational as a mob.
Any time someone defines a group as having emotions or plans they commit an error of reasoning. It is the individual that thinks and acts, or panics and acts, not a loosely defined stereotypical unity.
Modern economics has become the art of building ugly mathematical structures and calling them elegant. The models used are full of fallacies, the final product is obscene. I know, you want to know what I really think.
I think economists were created to make weathermen look good; or as Galbraith said "Economics exists to make astrology look respectable."
A modern social scientist would look at a large population of lemmings in a field. He could watch them for years. He could create an elegantly formulated model of lemmings travel patterns, and how close they stay to home. After all, lemmings are rodents. Mathematically he will prove they never roam far. And then. .....
They suddenly start acting like a human mob, having devoured all sustenance within range they rush off as a herd in a common direction - often to their doom.
Humans can be rational alone if they work at it. Put them in a large group, be it in a broker's office, entering the housing market, or walking through a casino; and kiss reason goodbye.
Modern economics frequently makes assumptions based on a "rational man," and then makes assumptions based on the first assumption to formulate a basis for mathematical structures. If the first assumption is weak, vague, or just plain wrong; there is no way for the conclusion to have substance no matter how convincing. or convoluted, the math. This is like the man that built a beautiful house of Jello cubes. It shimmers nicely in the distance, but you would not want to hold a party there. It will also eventually melt in the light of day, requiring a new "model."
New models are constantly constructed. They shimmer in the distance like mirages, looking rational and effective, once close they are discovered to have no substance. Reality is the bane of modern, math based, soft science. Shiny new models are then constructed.
Is there good science out there?
Yes there is.
All good science is challenged science. Good science requires good original construction, and a bunch of solid competitive people with good tools trying to dismantle and replicate or disprove it; before it is released as a possible truth. Good science is not based on assumptions; instead each building block is tested before use. Truth is we are still discovering the basics of real science, we are not yet very knowledgeable.
"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." - Sir Isaac Newton
We cannot understand or predict outcomes in an extremely complex system playing with a few measurements. We should admit we may never fully understand extremely complex systems. They may always surprise us.
Picture people a couple of thousand years from now discussing us as their history. I think there is a very good chance they will lump us in with the last millennium as "The Dark Ages."
There is a lot of knowledge worth learning. There are a great many scholars worth studying. There are many important things you can accomplish. As much as possible, be sure knowledge you explore is based on valid principles, test it yourself.
Invest your time wisely.
If you hear a report or read an article with a projection of the future based on a sophisticated new model, move on and laugh.
"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis
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