Born To Do Math 198: The Philosophy of Truism, Values in the Universe

In-Sight Publishing

November 16, 2020

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Ok, so, we’re talking about values now. Values in the universe.

Rick Rosner: We should talk about what things can feel well, which is in the realm of conscious beings. But maybe, there are some areas where things aren’t quite conscious, but still want stuff.  Some of it gets into semantics, like an amoeba doesn’t want stuff just because it moves toward stuff.

That’s more almost just chemistry. But the grasshopper has some awareness. You need to have awareness in order to want this part of the emotional repertoire, I guess.

Jacobsen: So, evolution is based on survival. So, things that live tend to have this inbuilt bias towards surviving.

Rosner: Yes, it’ll be interesting in the future as we build things that might have awareness that aren’t biased towards surviving or we can choose what they want. It’s not necessarily survival. All animals more or less commit suicide in order to reproduce.

So, they want to live up to a point and then they want to do other stuff. But just at a very basic level, you got to start with a consciousness of where things want things. Generally, you can imagine awareness of things that don’t want, but in our experience of where things want stuff.

Jacobsen: One of those things is things that help them continue existing.

Rosner: Right.

Jacobsen: Where their lineage continues.

Rosner: There is a bunch of stuff that is biased way towards order. There are some animals that thrive off of a certain chaos, but that’s still because they can control the chaos. So, we don’t have to pin everything down, but there are a bunch of things involved in what aware beings want.

It’s like agency control, stability. A lot of it just seems to me when we talk about how order is.  would we want that sound is not complicated enough. We want other stuff, but, at base, we want some stability. That’s why it’s the base from which we can build more complicated actions and wants.

Jacobsen: Yes. Given that existence is probabilistic at bottom, all the stuff is not going to be absolute. It’s like organisms are functioning on principles. So, they want a little. They want a suitable environment. They want to live longer. So, they want to preserve their own little order of their lives.

Rosner: When we look at it, the order that we want is so basic in a lot of ways that we don’t even realize we want it because it just seems like we don’t spend much time thinking about it. We want the Sun to come up every day.

We want to still have a planet. We want air and water. but also those things are so stable that we don’t spend much time thinking about them – except in special circumstances.

Jacobsen: So, if we look at like effects and a literal dictionary definition, which I looked at, one of the principles governing behavior more generally, just actions in the world. Things that are conscious act and live in the world.

So, their very act of existing as something conscious, I think, brings ethics into the universe. It’s an emergent property that comes with that, by definition. So, I take it this way. People will have – we have the phrase, “He’s a moral person.”

Whose image, we mean, in our terms, an order preserving person. But someone who’s destructive, they are enacting an ethic by that definition, too. So, it is to make a distinction between the people who are tending more towards disorder based ethics and those are more towards disorder based ethics.

Rosner: Yes, and we’ve talked about the Golden Rule when like when we talk about a mensch, it’s somebody who sees the Golden Rule, understands it, and then acts on it. It’s a mutuality that adds stability that people want a world in which that they won’t have to always be looking out for other people exploiting a momentary advantage.

So, it’s self-serving as well as others-serving. If we can look at other people and know that they’ll treat us decently, the bargain is that we treat them decently overall. It increases order for everybody. Then in America right now, we’ve been suffering through ordered systems not being prepared for the one-sided exploiter.

Jacobsen: And so, in that sense, the fact that you need order generation and maintenance for existence itself and for evolution to take place to make an agent. I think you can then make an argument.

Those facts come first and then second come the values, the values follow the contours of existence. Which to me, it’s following order. That bias in ethics is the same as the bias in existence.

It’s that which will assist in preserving order but similarly, what exists can wink out of existence. There is going to be outliers in very atrocious devastation-prone people, murderers, mass murderers, etc.

Rosner: So, order, the drive for order and for mutuality, which we could argue is a thing. The mutuality exists in areas of life where there are enough resources to support mutuality. When you look at where ethics stop, this is just off the top of my head.

But ethics stops when there isn’t the wherewithal to support, for instance, certain behaviours. With regard to meat animals, to some extent, society is built on exploiting, eating the flesh of animals.

Yes, and to a large extent, we don’t behave ethically towards animals. There are areas in which we do, but there are more areas just in terms of raw numbers of animals that are slaughtered. The ethics don’t apply or they apply, but only do it to the extent of what is kosher with regard to meat.

There are also kosher meals that have to conform to certain sanitary standards. But also, the animals have to be killed as well, with as little cruelty as possible, which is still plenty of cruelty given the technology that people have been working with. But the idea is that there are some limited ethics there.

Jacobsen: I always would fall back on the fact that we are surviving and are living. A lot more things are in many cases due to human guardianship in many ways, though human destruction as well. It goes back to not absolute ethics.

It’s the idea that these are principles or tendencies. These aren’t absolute. So, even people like Leonardo da Vinci who said centuries ago, viewing the future, people will view murder of animals as we do a murder of another human being.

That is a growing ethic of animal rights people. But we still have the ethic present. We have it growing, but it’s not absolute. Even if it becomes the norm rather than an outlier phenomenon, I think still older world people would be diehard meat-eaters.

Rosner: Yes. I’m sure that it may become more and more trumpy thing to be that defiant. “I defy your sensitivity to the suffering of animals.”

Jacobsen: And so, I was trying to think of a phrase for this. I think when I pitched with a philosophy of truism, so this is without the physics and without the numbers. It’s just a sensibility argument based on these tendencies.

It just one follows from the other. Then it’s a situation in which I took this phrase from you, which is “it can’t not be.” In fact, it’s overwhelmingly likely these kinds of things cannot be. They will be not absolute, but they’ll be bottom-up first.

Rosner: And then we’ve talked a lot about the creepy things that will happen when the full menagerie or a growing menagerie of different forms of constructed consciousness comes into the flower.

Jacobsen: Yes.

Rosner: Where all sorts of ethical calls will be made both institutionally and individually.

Jacobsen: I think even this ethics is applicable there too, easily.

Rosner: The idea will be the argument that you want to make to survive in that society is to convince the people who control your fate that you are deserving of equivalence. That your consciousness is as valuable as there, which is going to be a tough thing to argue.

Especially if there is a shortage of resources, so, if we’re lucky, there won’t be a shortage of resources. That in some cyber world of the future; there will be enough room for everybody.

Jacobsen: That’s also a tendency when you want intelligent behavior. It makes a world of abundance as opposed to not. There is one period we call the Agricultural Revolution, but there have been all sorts of mini-revolutions in food production making our lives easier.

To the sanitary conditions for living, you name it. Intelligence applied along that order tendency will create a world more livable and enjoyable and abundant.

Rosner: Yes, I just read a science fiction novel set four thousand years in the future and all the characters are still just basically human. They can copy their identities of consciousness and send them to other people to share and stuff. But basically, everybody there was unrealistic because 4,000 years from now.

It’s not going to look like that. Unless, you are part of a very specialized enclave, as we’ve talked about. So, we wish we could talk about how under IC ethics; ethics favors the apex information processors or the apex consciousnesses.

If there is a shortage of resources, we’ve talked about the risks of understanding consciousness mathematically because that can lead to the disfavor of inferior consciousness or the understanding of ending a consciousness within context.

Because, even though, we have ethics. The ethics stops where we become powerless over death. It’s crazy how beyond a certain point people are allowed to die because they’re just too sick. Even like the most powerful highly moral people like Nelson Mandela, we sit while he’s dying.

There is not a general freaking out. It’s like, “Yes, well, he’s old, at the end of his time.” So, it’s understandable because, a lot of times, you can’t do anything. Although, sometimes, once the death happens, like fuck ups on the way to death, like in America and probably a lot of other places medical errors are the third leading cause of death.

Yet, we don’t see doctors being hauled into court like every fucking day. And if the world becomes jam-packed with higher consciousness, there may be a callousness to inferior consciousness being allowed to pass away or understanding the struggles of consciousness or not the ultimate value of things.

For example, the way we let it be game over for billions of chickens every year. It’s like, “Sorry, we need the meat. You’re dead. It doesn’t matter. You don’t feel anything anymore.” It’s, again, as we’ve talked about before. A whole new set of ethical frameworks are going to need to be constructed or will be constructed with various degrees of fairness and horribleness.

But I think what you’re arguing, and I think I agree, is that an underlying driver for the frameworks is the preservation of order and stability where it can be reasonably preserved; that a mutuality among the beings that hold power in a society.

Jacobsen: You’ve got a situation in which the ethic lived out by an organism, by some multi-planetary civilization, is a disorder at some point there is obliteration eventually or instantaneously.

Rosner: Well, that’s the deal. Once you can do it, once you can master consciousness technologically, you can also engineer what you want. So, we will be making beings that don’t strive for individual survival with all their might.

They weren’t built that way. We could build ourselves that way. So, yes, it becomes possible. I would assume that if we eventually know more about extraterrestrial civilization, we will, probably. here will be cases where a civilization decided we don’t have to strive.

We could just extinguish ourselves and nobody will know because we’ll be dead. Nobody’s, keeping score, but that’s not accurate because the universe is in some ways keeping score. It’s processing information, but it’s likely conscious. It likely has drives. It’s not unlikely that the preservation of information and order are among the things that it wants.

Jacobsen: I would argue the philosophical point of view. It’s unavoidable. The fact of the matter of existence being here. All of this follows naturally from that. So, in other words, there is a stream of a strong bias towards all this being and inevitably so, in effect.

Rosner: Yes, but okay, the same way there is no inherent value of continuing consciousness versus deciding to end it. There is a similar thing. We don’t know. This thing about there is a chicken or egg deal, probably, where we can’t even decide between a naturally evolving universe and an engineered one.

Because of the infinite turtles problem. But you can set up an arena in which an information structure can naturally evolve, or you can probably set up a somewhat natural arena in which there is some natural evolution, but there is also some interference, external interference that is okay.

As long as it doesn’t mess with causality, it doesn’t. You can add stuff to an evolving system that you want to get in there as long as you put it in there in a way that doesn’t violate causality too badly and slide it in from the edges of the universe. So, it requires a mutual history, so you’ve got a naturally evolving universe.

It’s when we think of the universe; we think of a naturally evolving universe.

Jacobsen: The object.

Rosner: Yes. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Somewhere, there is intentionality. In that, somebody had to build the hardware in which the naturally evolving universe can evolve. Or the armature, we think of it.

In fact, we haven’t even discussed like a natural intervention. I haven’t even thought of it until now. Is there an armature that creates information preserving hardware that does come into existence without intentional creation?

It seems like, just by saying it, a possibility, but not very likely. So, basically, that whole discussion leads to the idea that you can’t say what’s natural or not because there is unnaturalness lurking behind every fucking armature. Does that seem reasonable?

Jacobsen: I think that’s okay. I think that’s more the physics side of it. Let’s go for more of an idea as to the boundaries required for setting it up in the first place.

Rosner: Ok, but of our minds, our brains have evolved, so that they naturally provide an armature. So, that gives you two worlds that are naturally evolved. We can argue.

Jacobsen: Yes, one’s bigger, one littler. Okay.

Rosner: Yes.

Jacobsen: So, the qualitative differences will be there, the functionality. But we can construct a model in which there is no necessary need for any teleology to make it functional.

Rosner: Yes, you can imagine and naturally all structures all the way. I’ve just done the slightly short of saying: Once you get a couple of generations in the armatures, you can’t discuss them at all because they’re remote enough that they don’t directly impinge on your world’s existence.

Jacobsen: Yes. Also, most of the old theories proposed some top-down interventionism, reincarnationism, some cyclical universe, that has got in its head a God, the creator, or the tortured design argument or some creationist argument.

We can knock those down as a whole if they’re considered completely true because of evolution by natural selection. That’s how life works. That’s how all that came to be. So, anything that’s not incorporating that into its framework just doesn’t work or anything that tries to make anything extra to make it work is just superfluous, basically, because it works with or without any guiding hand.

Rosner: Yes, although, you can argue that there is room for the guiding hand if the guiding hand is subtle.

Jacobsen: But then the question would be: What’s the evidence for it? And people, typically, go back to intelligent design or creationism, “Look how complex things are. It could not be except for the hand of a God,” where some lunatics, believing it, they claim that they themselves are the manifestation of God or whatever.

So, as I think, typically, those arguments fall down pretty quick. There is only a limited set, like pantheism, hold a place.

Rosner: There is not a probabilistic argument that we’re looking at a universe with apparent history of 40 billion years and the universe can’t survive that many interventions, magical type interventions. So, what are the odds of one out of 10 to the 22nd planets in the universe in a year out of 14 billion experiencing such an interventionist event? It’s got to stay clean.

Jacobsen: Absolutely. So, it’s a common sense argument. It’s using reason and empiricism and then focusing on the principles. I think the failure of a lot of these older ideologies have been trying to force-fit partial knowledge into an absolute truth, or vice versa.

Rosner: Yes, you got to look at like the “San Junipero” thing that we know is going to happen. “San Junipero” is the episode of Black Mirror of this young woman who finds herself in this world. She’s looking around and, eventually, gets a girlfriend.

Over the course of the episode, it turns out that she’s in a human created after cyber stuff. After that, there is nothing inherently impossible in that we know that’s coming. So, that just like we said, that constructed world, there are prohibitions against it.

There are probabilistic arguments against our world being that. But I don’t know. Then you can you can have a world that’s clearly intervened, and it doesn’t make the world impossible.

Jacobsen: And so, that’s why I want to leave that out right there, which is it’s just extremely likely that existence exists, both existence and things that persist. The values follow quite naturally along the contours of existence itself.

Rosner: And a lot of the things we have trouble understanding or expressing will probably become much more clear once there is a mathematical framework. Once a hundred years pass or so, people can become adept at navigating the framework.

Same way that quantum mechanics weirded everybody out at first. But I feel, at least, in science for the layman, they like to talk about how weird quantum mechanics is, but I feel like people who work with quantum mechanics as their jobs are not particularly weirded out. They’re not going to work on rules.

Jacobsen: Yes. So, I think one thing we can add as a tack onto that is things are here existing and they have things that live in it. You can speak about, only in reasonable terms, a factual morality.

You have to use what are the facts of the matter, which is scientific to inform your values. Otherwise, your values aren’t worth very much because they’re not connected to the real world.

Rosner: Ok, that makes sense. It’s like sociobiology tries to explain everything in terms of eggs expensive, sperm cheap. When you’re arguing that, you need to look at the processes that underlie the world to get a base understanding how they mesh with what we experience as a force here.

Jacobsen: And I take ethics from the dictionary of actions in the world. They could be order or disorder ethics, or something neutral.

Rosner: But I think you can also argue that that approach that the physics of the world is so many generations removed from ethics that we’re just not used to doing that.

Jacobsen: Yes, and if ethics are actions in the world, the great part about that is the fact that there is… Agency in any universe means nihilism fails in the sense that nihilism means there are no values. But if you have agency, the full manifestation of a being in reality is itself ethics lived out through time for disorder or order. Nihilism completely fails.

Rosner: There is another argument that works against nihilism. If you assume that there is no limit to the size of the possible world, possible universe, which means that no matter how big there is a possible universe, that is, it’s always bigger than any you can imagine.

That that universe had to get to where it is through time. So, there are anti-extinguishing forces that allow things to get arbitrarily big to anything short of infinite.

Jacobsen: And so, in either case, you’re up to the fact this is the question fundamentally about ethics, “Is there an ethic?” It is not, “Are there values or not?” It’s, “What ethic?” Then you start just defining how that entity is living in the reality, how it’s an actually going about being.

Rosner: Is there a name for this? Is it physical ethics? Because it starts with the way the physics of the world perates.

Jacobsen: I would say all these are coming as a package. I think the tide I see in some deep ways with the math. I’m just calling them the Philosophy of Truism.

Rosner: So, you could also call it Informational Ethics because of truism. I don’t know if that’s the best term, because the truism is something that’s so obvious that it’s so simple, but it’s so obviously true.

Jacobsen: What do you think exists?

Rosner: Yes. So, I don’t know, if that’s what you’re going after and that there is a lot of stuff here that’s not obvious.

Jacobsen: Do you assume that you’re conscious?

Rosner: Yes.

Jacobsen: Yes. Like this data thing.

Rosner: But then you question it, then you have to bring it back, you have to make a statistic. Eventually, you have to make a statistical argument based on the likelihood of of how information works.

Jacobsen: So, honestly, I think these are probably five or six separate arguments. In the article, I wrote everything as statistical argument for existence, for temporality, reality. I give them capitalized names.

But, to me, when I tie them all together with conditionals, both the individual premises and the conditionals linking them all together for an overarching philosophical seemingly trivially true one.

They seem almost unassailable, not in absolute terms, but in probabilistic terms. I don’t think there are moral facts because I think morality is derivative from things existing first. So, you have the factual part, then you have the morality.

So, there have been some philosophers literally who talked about moral facts. I think that’s just backwards.

Rosner:  Seems like, what’s his name?

Jacobsen: Sam Harris, I think they’re wrong. You can only speak meaningfully in terms of your ethical premises having content, both facts and morality. There is one other point I wanted to make.

Yes, so, the fact that the total manifestation of something in reality comprising its ethics. It doesn’t have to be aware of the ethical. So, if you evolved a program, something that was not conscious of how it’s acting out in the world is ethical, or not, in terms of maintaining order or not; it’s still acting ethically.

Rosner: Yes, we’ve talked about how sex makes people make bad decisions and people don’t realize how much their decisions are warped by sex.

Jacobsen: Yes, so, all ethics is unavoidable once you get agency and then you have a bias towards order from there.

Rosner: Yes, there is actually free agency pseudo-ethics, where amoebas probably behave in a lot of ways that would preserve the species. Even though, they’ve got no agency.

Jacobsen: Yes. Something like, the baseline of survival as reflective of the facts of things developing order, having unconscious organisms, valuing order for their own survival. That if you value survival, you value your own order.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


(Updated July 25, 2019)

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.*

According to some semi-reputable sources gathered in a listing hereRick G. Rosner may have among America’s, North America’s, and the world’s highest measured IQs at or above 190 (S.D. 15)/196 (S.D. 16) based on several high range test performances created by Christopher HardingJason BettsPaul Cooijmans, and Ronald Hoeflin. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writers Guild Awards and Emmy nominations, and was titled 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Directory with the main “Genius” listing here.

He has written for Remote ControlCrank YankersThe Man ShowThe EmmysThe Grammys, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He worked as a bouncer, a nude art model, a roller-skating waiter, and a stripper. In a television commercialDomino’s Pizza named him the “World’s Smartest Man.” The commercial was taken off the air after Subway sandwiches issued a cease-and-desist. He was named “Best Bouncer” in the Denver Area, Colorado, by Westwood Magazine.

Rosner spent much of the late Disco Era as an undercover high school student. In addition, he spent 25 years as a bar bouncer and American fake ID-catcher, and 25+ years as a stripper, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television. Errol Morris featured Rosner in the interview series entitled First Person, where some of this history was covered by Morris. He came in second, or lost, on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? over a flawed question and lost the lawsuit. He won one game and lost one game on Are You Smarter Than a Drunk Person? (He was drunk). Finally, he spent 37+ years working on a time-invariant variation of the Big Bang Theory.

Currently, Rosner sits tweeting in a bathrobe (winter) or a towel (summer). He lives in Los AngelesCalifornia with his wife, dog, and goldfish. He and his wife have a daughter. You can send him money or questions at LanceVersusRick@Gmail.Com, or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Founder, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight Publishing and Editor-in-Chief of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal (ISSN 2369-6885). Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and the advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere.


[1] Four format points for the session article:

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  4. This session article has been edited for clarity and readability.

For further information on the formatting guidelines incorporated into this document, please see the following documents:

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