May 29, 2022 3:36 AM
is actually rather a lot
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"That which can be destroyed by the truth should be."

        -- P. C. Hodgell, Seeker's Mask.

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PL-timestamp:  Day 30

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PL-timestamp:  Day 31

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From one perspective, it's surprising that the first Keltham-induced break outside of Carissa Sevar occurs inside of Pilar Pineda.

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From another perspective, it's not surprising at all.

Pilar believes she is willed by Asmodeus to learn the true Law as a Keeper would know it and wield it.  She is confident enough of her own faith, confident that nothing can shake it, she was never built on a foundation of lies that she ever knew about.  Elysium would have already told her any uncomfortable truths that a demigod could see within her own mind.  No more than Ione or Asmodia, both entirely departed from their former faith, does Pilar think she has anything left to fear from apprehending dath ilanism or wielding it mercilessly against her own mind.

She didn't like torturing children with no other uses?  Pilar is already aware of that flaw in herself, and how deep it runs.  Elysium already plunged that knife into her as deep as it would go; and then by the wit, if not mercy, of the Most High, it was revealed to Pilar that she had let herself be too anxious for what would follow her return.

Does she care at all about people like Paxti, or children with no other uses, or souls who don't want to go to Hell?  In due time Hell will teach that out of her and set her on the right way forever.  For now, in Golarion, she is already returned from Elysium invincible in her faith.

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Out of dath ilan they might have warned: there is a potential rebound effect, if you do something that makes people safer, and then they think they are safer, and then they take more risks.  Risk compensation, it's called there.

But this, Keltham has not yet happened to lecture upon.

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And so Pilar Pineda told Keltham that she wanted him to make a very sincere try at breaking her, with those truths and arts of dath ilan that might break an adult who'd grown up unknowing of them; and see if that did literally anything to her.  Someone, Pilar said, obviously needed to try taking the risk; and someone was obviously her.

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So Keltham held forth to Pilar, then, in private session, upon the Way.  Keltham does not know any of that Keeper stuff, but he knows something about how non-Keeper dath ilani speak when they are more dedicated to the Art than he.

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Keltham tells Pilar of the principle of the bottom line:

If you begin by writing at the bottom of a sheet of paper the conclusion you mean to argue for above, the rightness or wrongness of the bottom line is already determined by whatever process led you to write that as what-you-would-argue-for.  Only a process that has the power to erase that bottom line and write in something else, has the power to change the correlation of the bottom line of that sheet of paper, with the many worlds in which that piece of paper is embedded, where the bottom line is true or false in that world.  If you write it and cannot erase it, the correlation is already fixed, it is too late to argue it afterwards.

If you write a probability, its lost 2s are already fixed across the many worlds; only if your arguments cause you to erase and rewrite the probability, do those arguments change anything.

This is not a Law from which anybody can exempt you; it is an obvious validity across all realities.  In the moment you decide what to argue for, the truth or falsity or lost 2s of that sentence are already scaffolded and bound to all the worlds that embed you, you are already as right or as wrong as you can ever be, no matter the arguments.

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Keltham holds forth to warn Pilar of the mistake called 'rationalization' -

- wait, it's called what in Taldane?  That word shouldn't even exist!  You can't 'rationalize' anything that wasn't Lawful to start with!  That's like having the word for lying being 'truthization'!

Well, anyways.  Motivated cognition, don't do that.  If you've literally never had any lessons about that... maybe keep an Owl's Wisdom prepped, wait until the next time you want to believe something and notice yourself making up arguments about it, and hit yourself with the Owl's Wisdom so you can watch all the little bits and pieces that go into the process.

Maybe adults in Golarion literally try to argue themselves into things?  But that's not the failure mode that dath ilani worry about; anything that explicit and deliberate is something you can just decide not to do and then you're done.  No, what you've got to watch out for are those subtle ouches and subtle yearnings that might lead you to flinch away from one idea and flinch towards another.  That's the part where she can maybe do a few Owl's Wisdoms and speed through what dath ilani children take some years to learn.

Though now that Keltham thinks about it, when he was very young, they did do exercises to notice explicit rationalization by way of having kids actually do that?  Well, those are pretty easy and fun to run through.  Keltham will start by proving that the sky is orange, then arguing that everything is upside down, then showing that humans are really a kind of fish; and for her own exercises he demands Pilar demonstrate that Keltham's shirt is secretly the real Keltham and that nobody should ever go outside.

See how your brain has to stretch and reach when it's trying to argue something that isn't so?  Well, remember that feeling; and then, if you notice feeling it again, halt melt and catch fire, don't do that.

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...this sort of seems to be heading towards - conveying a sense that all argument is meaningless?  Keltham was putting up a pretty persuasive argument that humans were fish, there.

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Then Pilar needs to work on refining her sense of what's an allowable argument until Keltham stops sounding persuasive about the fish thing.  Either that, or accept that humans actually are fish.

Pilar should - hopefully - be able to notice something stretched about the way that Keltham said very loudly and sternly that anything which was naturally born to two fishes mating, without magical interference, would by definition be a fish.  She should, hopefully, be able to notice a stretched feeling inside her mind, considering that.  If she can't feel it yet, note it down, accumulate a bunch of those things, and review them with an Owl's Wisdom after the lecture is over.

In the future, noticing something stretched like this, when Keltham isn't pointing directly to it, will probably manifest as Pilar noticing a quiet note of disquiet in the corners of her mind.  She should maybe hit herself with an Owl's Wisdom as soon as she has that first experience, it's a really important one to remember and recognize and learn to feel explicitly and consciously every time it happens.

This is not about despair in how reasonable arguments can reach wrong conclusions.  This is about your own sense of what is 'reasonable' being broken.  This is about taking more Validity into yourself.  This is about using the styles of cognition and kinds of arguments that make it easier to argue for true things than for false things.

But even ilani, when they stretch themselves to their limits - possibly even Keepers - cannot be sure of what is and isn't valid, when they are doing deep thinking not in numbers and stretching their intuitions to their limits.  So they learn, first to reason validly, but also, not to let themselves flinch towards or away from thoughts, not to let their minds go to looking for arguments for a bottom line already written; only to wonder "Is X true?" and not "How do I argue for X?"

If Pilar is starting to doubt lots of argument steps, to see possible fallacies everywhere, to feel unsure which arguments are valid - she'd better rush to master the art of evenhandedness and purifying her cognition from flinches.  Otherwise, those doubts-of-validity and arguable-fallacies will, perhaps, arise swiftly when Pilar considers something she doesn't want to believe; and seem more distant - not come so naturally to mind - when she is considering something she wants to believe.

If you are swifter to look for flaws and fallacies and invalidities in incongruent thoughts, than in congruent thoughts, then learning more of the Art only makes you that much stupider; it gives you that much more spellpower with which to blast down everything you don't want to believe, all the arguments you don't want to accept, and keep your bottom line in place forever.

Of which it was said out of dath ilan:  Intelligence, to be useful, must be used for something other than defeating itself.

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So... try to figure out when she wants something to be true, and then not believe that?

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Does that, in fact, sound Lawful to Pilar?

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...not really, no.  Pilar would like to be alive in Golarion so she can better serve Lord Asmodeus; she does not therefore seem to be dead.

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Not a precise example; that was something Pilar wanted, not something Pilar wanted to believe.  But, sure, even if you want to believe the Sun is shining, that doesn't make it dark out.

Of which it was said out of dath ilan:  Reversed stupidity is not intelligence.  If you were guessing future coinspins and betting on them, you would need very good information about the future, you would need to be Nethys, to get every coinspin wrong.  You would need strong veridical information about the future, processed correctly on some level, in order to be wrong that reliably.  Wanting something to be true isn't that; it's not evidence in the other direction, just a flaw in your own thinking.

Keltham was warned against this as a child - the same way he was warned against criticizing incongruent thoughts harder for flaws - that he should not think that it would be the Way: to ask, "What might somebody in my shoes be tempted to believe?", and then believe you were probably being tempted to believe that whether you could detect that internally or not, and then adjust downwards your probabilities on it.

What you want is to detect the flinch towards or away from a thought, switch off the flinch, and do your thinking without letting the flinches move you.  Step as rightly as you can, on each step, and then go where your footsteps take you.  This is a path that leads to skill, if you follow it, as you become more skilled at clearing your thoughts.  The other path, the path of indefeasibly doubting yourself and treating your fears and wishes as evidence the other way, is a trap that leads nowhere.

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And Keltham continues to hold forth upon the Way.

Here are some of the experiments and games that dath ilan uses to show its children their innate conformity, that they may be warned against the tendency - very young children, obviously, you couldn't pull that sort of crap on an eight-year-old, by then they've got enough individualism and confidence in their own reasoning not to say that Line C is the same size as Line X when it's obviously not.

These are some tests you can apply to determine whether a thought is meaningful or meaningless to you.

This is what it feels like to want to believe something you don't actually believe.

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And the thing to remember above all is that you cannot be any smarter than the process that actually produced your beliefs.

If you look up at the sky and see it's blue - you're no better and no worse than your eyes and the vision-processing part of your brain.

If you close your eyes and decide that your favorite color is orange, and want the sky to be orange, and argue that the sky is orange, and build orange-colored filters and produce paintings of it to try to convince others - you are no smarter than the process 'pick your favorite color and then think that things are that color'.  (Though it's fine if you wish the sky was orange, or start planning to make the sky orange; the error is if you try believing that it's orange already.)

And the only way to do any better than you're already doing, is to go through a different process and produce a different belief.

Not every change is an improvement, but every improvement is necessarily a change.

There'd be no point in Pilar trying to be a Keeper, if she tried to keep all her old beliefs in the process; why bother becoming a Keeper, if she already knows all the facts correctly?

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Keltham does not know the way of Keeping, only a few signposts around the first steps there, placed to warn dath ilani off starting down that path unless they mean it.  Still, that part is knowledge and Keltham has it.

It is said, there is no ordinary thought that Keepers would hesitate to think.

There are exotic thoughts not to think - maybe especially in Golarion, directions you should not look because something from that direction might look back - or inhuman patterns of thought that higher Keepers devised, maybe, as might destroy unready minds from the inside.  Keltham does not know details for obvious reasons.

But nothing along the lines of, say, how the prediction market is assigning only a 40% probability that you stay married for fifty years to the person you promised your eternity, or that you're a romantically obligate sadist with no accessible masochists.  That, you're not afraid to think about, not if you're a Keeper.

Even among the ordinary dath ilani, you learn that when you notice that your mind is not-looking in a direction, you're past the point in your childhood where it makes sense to not look there anymore.

Even among the ordinary dath ilani, as you grow more knowledgeable in Law and by simple age more practiced in thinking, you become better at it over time, at noticing the directions you aren't looking.

Even among the ordinary dath ilani, every time that happens to you, you naturally learn a bit more about how you work, in that regard, and it becomes easier to notice what you aren't thinking.

That's just growing up.

But the Keepers push themselves to grow up as quickly as possible, like a child forcing themselves to leave their parents' home seven years earlier than would be usual.

'That which can be destroyed by the truth should be', goes the proverb, and ordinary dath ilani and Keepers alike both hold to it in the limit.  If you look at it from the standpoint of the Future, if you somehow get some wrong thought into your head, do you want to still be thinking it a thousand years later?  Do you always want to be that small, or that warped, that you could go on holding a false belief forever?

For the ordinary dath ilani, though, they say, 'That which can be destroyed by the truth should be eventually.'

And the Keepers say, 'That which can be destroyed by the truth should be immediately.'

- though, to be clear, that doesn't mean they run around telling other people truths that will wreck parts of their personalities.  It means that they themselves will destroy whatever of themselves they can, with whatever truths they've come to hold.

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Does Pilar still want to become a Keeper?

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It's not a matter of wanting; Pilar cannot choose to be anything else.

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Brave, poetic words.  Possibly worryingly so; good decisions made for good reasons should perhaps not sound so optimized to be poetic.  It'd be fine for an ordinary dath ilani, if they were making a brave decision, to try to have it sound inspiring and poetic too.  For a Keeper the potentially tiny resulting bias might be a problem, unless they were very confident of their prior ability to not be influenced at all towards the decision by how poetic and brave it was.

Ordinary human beings should not try to live like that.  They need bits of bravery and poetry in them.  Not bravery and poetry they know is false.  But trading off some tiny tiny breath of precision in their thoughts, to have emotion and color?  Not giving up their art and believing something false.  Just - daring to, in the course of making what they think is the right decision, also being brave and poetic about that?  That's a reasonable benefit to go for, even if it comes with a tiny risk of making the wrong decision.  So long as it's not a big risk, one where you've gotten to the point of, like, noticing a tiny quiet note of disquiet.  Then even an ordinary person should rethink it as clearly as possible.

But, like, in the course of everyday life - you don't want to be trying to root the bravery and poetry out of yourself in case it influences you in the wrong direction.

Unless you're a Keeper.  They presumably don't try to get all the emotions out of themselves, then they wouldn't want anything or do anything ever.  But they would - Keltham thinks - be disturbed by the prospect of a note of bravery and poetry influencing their thoughts in an invalid direction at all, and if they didn't destroy all bravery, they'd be doing something else to - optimize their thoughts, somehow, so that they couldn't be influenced in some way they defined as undue, or invalid -

Keltham doesn't know, actually.  He is not in fact a Keeper, and these arts are themselves held infohazardous to those who would not practice them.

The point is, the Keepers are willing to step further away from their humanity and try to think in stranger patterns, for the sake of knowing the truth, for the sake of obtaining their goals, for the sake of protecting the children who don't want to grow up so quickly.

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Does Pilar still want to be a Keeper?

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Pilar bets that devils, though they have grandeur - which probably subsumes bravery and poetry - don't go reasoning in invalid ways on account of their grandeur.

Or if lesser devils are still doing that, Pilar would guess that Asmodeus is annoyed about it.

Pilar is with Asmodeus with that, as she is with Asmodeus in all things.

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As far as Keltham can tell, Pilar is not currently acting like her mind is disintegrating due to any of the things that Keltham has said already.  Keltham does want to check in explicitly that this is in fact the case.

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Pilar is not in the slightest danger of disintegrating due to any of this.

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