Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Reasonable Interpretation of Acharya's books

If Acharya's books were taken as a huge reductio ad absurdum, they would actually make sense. There is no paucity of theological works that likewise lack in quality - shoddy sources, misrepresented data, etc. I may write some reviews of such works later on (I have a couple in mind). I have no idea how the Historical Jesus-research fares on average in comparison to other parts of theology that interface with history, but I would guess there are a fair share of relatively credulous stuff there as well.

Using unreliable sources and even a clearly defined methodology can lead to mistaken conclusions. I do think this is more common among academic theologians than they like to admit, and one volume demonstrating why this is a problem would be a reasonable thing to do.

But if this were the approach she had taken, why does she not defend such a point rather than the actual arguments in the book? Why is pointing the massive amount of bad sources, distortions and downright fabrications (on the part of her sources) met with accusations of misogyny?

Would it not be better to respond by pointing to some specific works in the Historical Jesus-camp and ask why the critics do not apply the same rigor there? Personally, I do find it likely most atheists in the Historical Jesus camp apply quite a similar level of rigor there, though.

Such a reading would justify one book or so - once it is done, the point would be clear - but when there is a plethora of such books written by her, clear statements by her to the effect that this thesis really is correct and so on, it gets difficult to believe that her intent is one of reductio ad absurdum regarding the methodology of theologians.  Angry accusations aimed at any criticism - as well as a bunch of fans that are happy to accuse whoever criticizes her of being sociopaths and such - square even less well with such an interpretation.

I find using misogynist as a catch-all accusation in order to dodge criticism demeans all the men who are not misogynists, and it also demeans all the victims of genuine misogyny. Persecution complexes are weird.

Busy ...

Been a bit busy in recent weeks, more regular updates will resume soon. There is no shortage of stuff to write about, but obtaining some of the sources is difficult, and knowing where to start is also a challenge - this is a rabbit hole that goes deep, and I have no idea at which point to assume the average reasonably educated reader will know there is something wrong about a claim.

As an aside, if someone happens to know whether Albert Churchward's The Origin and Evolution of Religion can be obtained for free - as far as I can tell it is in the public domain by now - I would be happy, as I have had no luck looking for it.

His brother James Churchward also has two volumes of some interest to me right now, The Lost Continent of Mu and The Children of Mu, which I also have been unable to obtain. Both of these should have entered the public domain as well.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fallacies I: Unworkable definitions - can grammar depend on truthfulness?

Fallacies I: Unworkable definitions

I find logic to be a thing a lot of people lack any kind of proficiency with. Certainly my takes on these issues may be a bit too strict (in one sense), and I get the feeling if you linger too much on the topic of logic, people will think you are Spock or Data and dismiss you. Of course, Spock/Data logic is not really logic either, but rather a pastiche of logic, made up by scifi authors not much better informed than the general public. Sadly enough, this has reinforced the mistaken notions among the public.

This will tie into the main topic here in a way that is relevant - it is basically a survey of fallacies in logic. This particular fallacy is not common in Acharya's books, but fallacies of a semantic nature do occur a lot of the time, and explaining why these kinds of fallacies are problematic is necessary to show why her reasoning fails even if some of the data backing it up were solid (and some of it undoubtedly is, but as we have already seen, a significant amount is not).

I recently ran into a discussion on an atheist forum, where the following exchange was reported:
  • Christian co-worker presented dumb arguments in favor Christianity. 
  • Atheist justifiedly retorts that those arguments are flawed.
  • Christian, now exasperated, throws his arm in the air and asks "why do you hate God so much?!"
  • Atheist responds "I don't, it's impossible to hate him as he does not exist".
  • Other atheists congratulate the atheist by pointing out the correctness of the reasoning and how the Christian was being stupid by not realizing this.
This reasoning seems solid, no? With the notation of modal logic, "the non-existence of God implies that it is not possible to hate God":
¬∃(God) → ¬◇(Hate(God))
This reasoning is not solid, though. Further, the notion that it is possible to hate the idea of God, but impossible to hate God is often presented as the explanation as to what emotion actually is happening in the mind of the believer

Even though I agree with the premise that God does not exist, I do not agree with the conclusion that one therefore cannot hate God. If we agree with that conclusion, we make the word "hate" useless. We make its meaning too reliant on the world external to the relevant context for it!

If this were true, would it not also be impossible to believe in, love, praise or disdain God? Should not all verb phrases applying to God as an object be untrue by definition?

Hate is a state our mind is in - when we say X hates Y, we say that X's mind is in a state of hate for Y. It is of course possible that X hates Y for some reason that does not correspond to reality. A lot of nationalist hatred comes from prejudiced ideas about other nationalities, ideas that do not correspond to reality. If someone hates Jews because he thinks they have characteristics they do not really have, does he really hate the Jews? We end up in an infinite regress, where we never really hate anyone or anything, but hate ideas of things. We would be obliged to say that the Nazis did not hate the Jews, they hated the misconception of the Jews they had in their own mind.

It becomes unworkable to make the logic surrounding words such as hate rely on the realities of the hated person or thing. We must just ignore the realities of the thing and accept that the object of the hate need not even exist for the hate of it to be a real thing. This makes the entire argument that one can not hate God since he does not exist a fallacious argument, and fallacious arguments of this type do not help out in trying to get along with strongly religious people or in debunking their stuff - it just serves to dig trenches on the battlefield, to show that we ignore logic and are ready to present shoddy thinking in favor of our position. Not a mark of  willingness to utilize reason.

The point I want to make here, really, is that well-formedness of a statement cannot rely on the truth-value of the statement. The opposite must be the way it works, or we could have a language where all lies are ungrammatical. A silly proposal even at first sight!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Context, Reading and Comprehension: Applying Gricean Maxims to The Christ Conspiracy

This post relies on a previous post, without which some claims in it may seem somewhat unjustified.

In the case of D.M. Murdock's books, it is somewhat unclear what previous knowledge she expects of the reader - neither of these audiences really fit the bill:
  • theologians
  • historians of antiquity
  • philologists
  • scholars of comparative religion 

Murdock's own website touts the book with these words:
While accessible to the reader, this book is scholarly, containing hundreds of quotes and 1200 footnotes in over 400 pages.[1]
I would assume that "accessible to the reader" signifies that the reader does not have to stand on his head or engage in a game of second-guessing the author's intentions. A degree in any of the previously mentioned fields should definitely not be necessary. Simply put, we should be permitted to assume the text will be relevant to the main point made, clear, such that we need not read it in contrived manners, of an economical quantity,such that no (or very few accidental) omissions of things necessary to understand the reasoning or any inclusion of any great number of things superfluous to the thesis being presented are included (that is, we must neither ignore things she says in order to understand it, nor have to realize by our own accord that we need to read some other books first), and finally truthful, which we should take to mean that Acharya nowhere presents evidence she herself finds unconvincing or false even if it supports her thesis.

This stands in abject contrast to her own explanation as to why she includes very explicitly positive references to theories that Indian civilization is at least 100 000 years old, that homo sapiens is 2.8 million years old, and so on:
The point here is that I was reading all these fascinating books so long ago, and I decided to include some of these comments, because they were in these books, about which many people had asked me. The same can be said for my inclusion of a couple of Sitchin quotes, merely to show that I had read his books, since many people had been asking me about his work. I did not include anything about aliens from him, but I wanted my readers to understand that I knew his work. [2]
So, ostensibly agreeing with a stance is just a way of indicating that one is aware of that stance now?  That is neither clear, relevant, economical or truthful. These things that apparently were just included to illustrate that she has read these books are stated with surprising gusto if that were the sole intent:
That the culture and religion of India are very old is obvious. As the "celebrated Orientalist" Sir William Jones pointed out, the Indian scriptures, the Vedas, appear to be of an "antiquity the most distant." Indeed, some scholars have posited that the Rig Veda contains mention of an astronomical configuration that could only have occurred 90,000 years ago. The Hindu chronology, in fact, goes back millions of years, and there has been effort to push back true human civilization, rather than man's apelike progenitors, to that era. Obviously, such "forbidden archaeology" is widely dismissed by the orthodoxy for seeming lack of solid evidence. Nevertheless, something certainly is amiss in the current orthodox paradigm, such that an overhaul is in order. Of course, conclusive proof of such an antiquity would be difficult to provide, because millions of years have elapsed, during which there has been much cataclysm and scouring of the earth's surface. [3, p. 381]
Or, for that matter:
Based on archaeological, anthropological, astrological and mythological evidence, A. Churchward claimed that modern humans must have existed at least 2.8 million years ago. While Churchward wrote several decades ago, and would thus seem to be outdated in the face of so many scientific discoveries and conclusions since then, his arguments are compelling. This estimation may not be so farfetched, in any case. In fact, in seeming accord with the Hindu chronology, which goes back millions of years, Keel report that "Human footprints and man-made objects were repeatedly turning up in coal mines and geological strata dating back millions of years." ...According to the current paradigm, the modern human only came into being 100,000 years ago, a figure that keeps being pushed back; however, for some reason, humans did not develop significantly for 70,000 years, when they began to paint beautiful images in caves, among other things. Nevertheless, if the human species can progress as far as it has in the past five hundred years, there is no reason it could not have done so tens of thousands of years ago. In fact, it makes no sense at all, if homo sapiens appeared 100,000 years ago, that it only reached an advanced degree of culture in the past 6-8,000 years. [3, p 404] 
 Acharya's official forum's moderator responded to this by saying that reading this as though Acharya supports such a theory is misleading: after all, what she says is "A. Churchward claimed that modern humans must have existed at least 2.8 million years ago. While Churchward wrote several decades ago, and would thus seem to be outdated...", and I am misrepresenting her by claiming she actually supports the theory [4]. Reading the entire thing in context makes it clear the moderator's defense is nothing but a defensive quote-mine, as the only way of not reading the two quotes above in an honest fashion - without having to engage in weird games where what she says is not what she means - does in fact indicate that she disagrees with what mainstream "orthodoxy" thinks of these things.

Another defender of Acharya's works claims "compelling" is used in its colloquial meaning of fascinating. That would be being obtuse and playing games with the reader - such a meaning for compelling tends to be rather marked and used in rather specific contexts - and colloquial use is not what one expects in this type of literature in the first place. This is claimed to be a scholarly text, not a colloquial text. If I am to assume words are used in a colloquial meaning, maybe I should assume other things too - like, Keel's report quoted above actually saying that these artefacts and footprints which supposedly turned up did turn up because modern people put them there - an option that the text in fact does not preclude?

Fact is, Acharya says there is something about the orthodox position that needs an overhaul, and she labels claimed evidence against the orthodox position as compelling. Any reasonable reader will come to the conclusion I reached about her stance on these issues, and only a quirky intentional misreading obtains the meanings her fans defend now that the bad science in her work has been pointed out. 

Finally, including Sitchin's books as sources just to demonstrate familiarity with his works - when these works are used as sources for claims - is also very bad praxis. If she only is doing it to display familiarity, do please reduce the way it is worded as indicating support for it. Given the level of supportive statements in both The Christ Conspiracy and The Suns of God for this kind of pseudoscience, one can only conclude she holds it in high enough esteem. She basically vouches for Sitchin.

I am informed that the Pygmy theory will be removed from the next edition of The Christ Conspiracy. This is good. However, I am also informed by "Freethinkaluva22" that
Yet, you have the nerve to complain about everybody else's reading comprehension etc? I'm not going to waste my time trying to explain all of this to a nutbag. Besides, that entire chapter is being removed from the 2nd edition and made into a future project on its own. [4]
Apparently it is wrong to criticize the theory, as it no longer will be included in the next edition. (However, the theory will live on in another book entirely, and this somehow renders the theory beyond reproach!). Freethinkaluva's rebuttal entirely misses the point! I have a hard time getting how anyone can think this argument has any validity whatsoever - does moving the theory to another book make it immune to criticism? I don't even ... 

Important point: evidence or hypotheses are mentioned for a reason in scientific works. Sometimes, as a contrast to one's own hypothesis, sometimes in order to reject or provide a more compelling piece of evidence. Acharya neither contrasts or rejects any of it - unlike the disdainful words she occasionally offers with regard to modern academic orthodoxy. Why are these things reported if not in agreement, and why are they given as supporting evidence for a hypothesis she presents if she does not support these claims? The Christ Conspiracy indeed offers compelling evidence that these are views she supports or at the very least finds compelling. Any reasonable approach to reading comprehension - especially if we take Gricean maxims into account - will conclude this. Any other reading is mere sophistry, and serves only to demonstrate that those who defend her have nothing better to offer than obfuscation. 

Further, the maxim of clarity makes it reasonable to assume that a statement about linguistic phenomena uses terminology from linguistics. Robert Tulip, an advocate of Acharya's, defends this statement of hers:
Bryant notes that the Egyptian priests were called "Sonchin," or "Son-Cohen"-priests of the sun. Thus the English word "son" is not a false cognate with "sun," and it is truthfully said that the "son of God" is the "sun of God." This son-sun connection can also be found in the Indian language: In tracing many Indo-European and Vedic words to a common root, Roy proffers, among others, the root "son," representing "sunu" in Vedic and "son" in Indo-European [sic!].[5, p. 76]
His defense objects to my pointing out that (the English words) son and sun are not cognates, the Indo-European roots being distinct. (She apparently also thinks English and Indo-European are the same thing). Tulip responds:
Similarly, Acharya notes a comment that 'sun' and 'son' are cognates. Now, this is not strictly true according to the technical linguistic definition of cognate, the one Miekko is using, but it is a reasonable statement in terms of the mythic connection between Jesus Christ and the sun. Acharya has had a lot of debate about this son-sun link. In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin. This learned term derives from the Latin cognatus (blood relative). 'Cognate' does get used outside linguistics in a way that can include the sun-son similarity, even though this is not a linguistic cognate. Acharya is presenting a multi-disciplinary hypothesis, not just a technical study in linguistics. So in this case, it is the broader meaning of cognate that makes sense, even if clarification is needed for those who might misread her comment.[6, my italicization.]
It is quite clear the claim she is making is of a linguistic nature. Why else the non-sequitur regarding Indo-European linguistics? It reads a lot like the neural network-argument I presented in the previous post, which did not actually contribute anything to the argument at all, but to an easily impressed reader might seem convincing because wow, difficult scholarly words! The actual linguistic evidence provided shows that yes, in some languages the word deriving from Proto-Indo-European *suHnús does look a bit like sun, a word deriving - in languages descending from PIE as well - from *sh̥₂uén. As if a list of bona-fide cognates of *suHnús  is somehow relevant to the argument she presents - viz. that they are "not false cognates". This is rather powerful a statement if all she is saying is that they are similar. She is failing as far as the maxim of clarity is concerned, as she uses a needlessly easily misinterpreted word, and the phrasing leads naturally and unequivocally to the conclusion that she is talking about the linguistic meaning of the word 'cognate'. Rephrasing her argument as per the meaning Robert Tulip claims she intends illustrates how ridiculous his apologetics are:
Thus it is not false that the English word "son" is similar to the word "sun".
That anyone would think that this is what she is trying to say leaves me dumbfounded, yet that is what mr. Tulip contends. Why, if that is what she is saying is she not saying it straight out? Anyone can see that son looks like sun in English, and only a fool would deny it. If he indeed is correct, Murdock needs to learn to write with way less convoluted wordings.

Not only is clarification needed, rethinking is needed. The entire paragraph is misguided and obtuse.

In summary, and to be really goddamn clear on this, if we assume Tulip's preferred reading, it fails economy of expression, as it apparently uses an entire paragraph of sophistry to say that son and sun look similar, it fails clarity, since it clearly speaks of the concept of cognates (sunu, son) - it is quite obvious why an erudite reader would be lead to think cognate means linguistic cognate in the context - in fact, not concluding that would be counterintuitive and go against the text itself! Failing the maxim of clarity also leads to a failure to adhere to the maxim of quality - the requirement to be truthful. Thus, Tulip's solution makes Murdock a liar, whereas mine just makes her a bad scholar. I find my conclusion preferable at this stage.

Either that, or the description I offered at the beginning of this post is wrong and the books are not accessible to the reader, unless the reader happens to be fortunately equipped with a telepathic hotline to Acharya S, thus being able to consult her mind whenever problematic passages appear - which they do en masse. Alas, she does not even offer a non-telepathic line - if you start asking questions such as these, the moderator of her forum will get you banned for asking too much.

If we are permitted to ignore linguistic conventions the way showcased above when reading the text in order to make it appear right, maybe the following misrepresentation also is entirely justified by linguistic hocus pocus:
It is not definite that there is a single source of all human languages, but much western language certainly comes out of India, a fact known for millennia and now being revamped with the "Nostratic theory," which seeks to trace language to India around 12,000 years ago. This Nostratic language was possible either "Chaldee," the ancient sacred lingua franca used by the brotherhood, or an even older version. [3, p 382]
See, if we grant the leeway her advocates ask for here, maybe we can come up with a colloquial meaning of the words Chaldee, India, etc, colloquial meanings used by Acharya's family and fans or whatever, and thus unfamiliar to outsiders. In reality, Nostraticists place the urheimat of Nostratic way closer to the fertile crescent (although nowhere in Dolgopolsky's dictionary can any indication as to where the leading scholars in the field would place it be found[7]) - Wikipedia informs me that at least some theory places it in Iran, but I have not been able to obtain any source for that. The name "Chaldee" is, in linguistics - and everywhere else the name has ever been used outside 19th century theosophy-  an outdated term for the Aramaic language, a Semitic language. It is closely related to Akkadian, which is the earliest attested Semitic language, which was spoken between 5000 and 3500 years ago, roughly.  Nostraticists by and large accept the established family trees of the languages of Eurasia and Northern Africa rather wholesale - and in those, both Aramaic and Akkadian are descendants of Proto-Semitic, which in turn is the descendant of Proto-Afroasiatic, which in turn is a sister taxon to Proto-Eurasiatic, from which Proto-Indoeuropean, Proto-Uralic and Proto-Altaic developed in parallel according to the Nostraticists.

Dolgopolsky's own foreword to his dictionary says it is held by some Nostratic scholars that Afroasiatic is not part of Nostratic, but a sister taxon. ([8, §6]), which even further removes "Chaldee" from the Nostratic grouping.

Clearly "an even older version" of Chaldee would be kind of close to the case if Afro-Asiatic indeed is a Nostratic branch (but in that case, "an even older version" of Finnish, English, Turkish, Chukchi (iirc), and Tamil also would qualify!) - in which case it would be a language spoken 5000-7000 years earlier, but the significance ascribed to it by Acharya as read in context is quite different.

I have read through as many papers as I've been able to from Nostraticists. Acharya's representation of their stance is far from accurate. It is furthermore accepted that western languages do not derive out of India. In fact, the Indo-European languages of India and Europe are both likely to originate in central Asia, not on the subcontinent.

I think this is sufficient for this post. The fans whom Acharya keeps closest to her are scientifically illiterate, and read things in tendentious manners to obtain a reading where they can maintain their belief that the object of their adoration - Acharya - is correct. This is not how science is done, this is just a way of basking in the adoration that devoted fans give.

[1] Acharya S,
[3] Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy
[5] Acharya S, Suns of God, 2004

Friday, December 7, 2012

Contexts, Reading and Comprehension, pt 1

I realize most readers here are genuinely literate. By that I do not just mean the ability to see a written word on a piece of paper, a screen or a metal plate and realize that the word there is, indeed, 'STOP', or whichever word it happens to be, but the ability to reconstruct in their minds the thoughts expressed in a text and after that, think a thought sufficiently close to the one the author expressed that for all purposes and intents there is a family resemblance between the thoughts of the author and the reader. Now, if an author is bad at expressing themselves, it may be impossible to know what the intended message was.

An example of this would be this phrase, which has been turned into an internet meme:

Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

Even given the context in which it was posted, it is difficult to figure out the thought the original author wants to express. We know this much: the thought is a question, and given that we know the specific form of question used, we can be fairly sure it is supposed to be answered either by yes or no, we may even surmise that if the answer were yes, the person asking would want to know the examples that do satisfy the condition. I am informed the actual context suggests the meaning is something like has anyone ever decided to do more in order to produce realistic graphics (than this particular game's producers have)?

As readers, we must be entitled to assume writers master the language in which they are writing - that if an author writes "kill all communists like vermin", he has not been mislead by a malicious teacher into thinking kill means love, all means your and communists means neighbour, like means like and vermin means yourself. Getting the meaning of words right does not necessarily mean they will communicate their thoughts perfectly - there may very well be occasions when slips of the pen (or of the mind) obfuscate the intended idea even if the vocabulary is right, and there may be occasions where mistaken vocabulary still is rescued by the context in which it appears.

 However, having read the "rebuttals" of my criticism, I am increasingly disheartened. It seems my main detractors to some extent refuse to think in terms of reasonable communication. So I figure I have to write a thing about communication.

Communicating an idea

Our brains are neural networks. Neural networks are finicky things, in some sense. They are good pattern matchers, but they also make mistakes, identifying so called false positives. This can be easily observed on occasion: talk a bit too fast about a concept, and it is likely your hearers will get the wrong ideas, they will find some pattern either along the lines of what the listener often thinks of, talks of and is spoken to about. Communication is not perfect, but for this reason, our use of language contains strategies to improve the chance of being understood correctly.

Here, it is reasonable to mention the Gricean maxims. In short, these maxims give guidelines that both parties of an utterance - speaker as well as listeners - benefit from. We use them both to form our utterance in a way that is easy for the recipient to parse, and to parse the utterance assuming it is formed along similar guidelines. 

I will try and describe my understanding of how these maxims apply to writing and communication more generally. I would love to hear objections, especially if Acharya's fans are capable of providing reasonable justifications for some of their claims.

The Gricean maxims are the following:
  1. say truthful things
  2. say relevant things
  3. say a suitable amount
  4. say things in a clear manner
There are of course situations when we will violate any one of these, we lie, we ramble, we fail to be clear. A good speaker or author, however, will at least get the three last ones right, and an honest good speaker adheres to the first one as well.

There are various sources of failure, though. For #1, we may have false information available to us or be under the wrong impression about how things are or we may tell an intentional lie. Epistemology can cause any number of problems, and so we can of course only say things that are true as far as we can tell. When reading a scientific text, we assume the author thinks his claims are true. However, we are permitted to suspect his experimental readings may be due to any kind of mistake in the setup of the experiment.

As for number #2, this is difficult. We may ourselves have an unclear idea as to the relevancy of a thing in the wider context. However, if we make a statement, and this statement consists of smaller statements, this should indicate that we believe all the smaller statements to be relevant to the full statement. The reader or listener should not have to look for the point we are making by having to ignore the right bits of what we say. If I were to tell someone how to cook a dish, and I told them:
  • cut about a third of a cucumber in short, thin sticks with a knife
  • put the sticks in salt and a couple of tablespoons vinegar for about half an hour in a small bowl or large enough cup
  • whip up a pancake batter with 3 dl milk, 2 eggs, 2 dl flour and a little salt, which you whip together in a bowl
  • fry four to six small perch fillets in butter in a frying pan until they get nice coloration, which is slightly brown
  • cook potatoes in a saucepan or other suitable thing, on the stove
  • pour the cucumber-vinegar-salt mixture over the perch, let sit on low heat for about five minutes with a lid on still keeping the perch fillets in the frying pan, now you can put the small bowl or large cup in the dish washer, or in the sink if you don't have a dish washer
  • turn on the oven, 250 degrees celsius should should be suitable
  • pour about a deciliter cream over the perch fillets and let sit on even lower heat if possible for a few minutes without the lid on
  • Serve the fish and cream-vinegar-cucumber sauce with either mashed or whole potatoes on plates on the table around which you keep chairs for the guests or family members to sit on while eating, and maybe a simple but fresh salad on the side but make sure the salad's not wilted
Did I do a good job explaining how to make the dish?
(The exact amounts of salt and vinegar and cream may be wrong here, gonna check them tomorrow. Pangasius or pike-perch are also acceptable substitutes if perch is not available to you. It is a lovely little dish.)
I would say I did not do a good job explaining it. I violate a few maxims here!

Notice how there are two entirely irrelevant bits in the recipe? (The other weird thing about it will be explained later.) The reader who wants to make this dish would have to notice the irrelevance of two instructions - this is not a thing you normally expect when reading a recipe. If you are used to cooking, you are very likely to notice there are superfluous and irrelevant instructions in the recipe, but if you are new to cooking and have no idea whatsoever what is going on, you may actually turn on the oven or whip up a pancake batter while also carrying out the proper given instructions. Unnecessary details like these do occasionally creep into academic writing or other instructions, but generally these are of the type "go have a cup of coffee while waiting for the reaction to finish" or somesuch, things where the reader can be assumed to know that having a cup of coffee does not affect the result, and that the coffee instruction simply signifies that some time will pass when you simply will have to wait for the results. In such situations, I would wager they serve some kind of sociological role as well: indicating the widespread acceptance of such behaviors within the relevant subculture. It also is related to the phenomenon we call humor, and in the case of English it may in part have to do with avoidance of repetition.

Saying a suitable amount in part overlaps with the previous maxim - but both maxims have bits that do not overlap. The above example would violate this maxim as well, and the violations are marked by italicization. Anyone who has fried perch knows it never turns teal or blue or violet and therefore the detail about the color it is supposed to turn is superfluous. Certainly, it is not a misleading detail, but it is unnecessary. These kinds of superfluous details can be introduced for humorous effect, but generally that is avoided in academic discourse unless made very obvious. Excessive detail can be helpful for someone entirely new to cooking - but what is excessive or not depends on the intended audience. Certainly we could write over-specific texts about anything, and at that point it becomes a muddle of needless - even if true - details. We could go into detail regarding the number of legs the average table has, the variety of table designs, the historical development of the table, the physics of how much weight it can carry and still be entirely truthful. This would violate the maxims of relevance as well as quantity. 

If too little is provided, another problem appears: the reader or listener is assumed to know more than he or she does know. The reader will fail to understand the underlying thought. If, in an essay or paper or blog-post, I say "So-and-so theorizes that ..., and this reasoning seems compelling enough. It further fits the evidence provided by this and that" and what I really mean is "So-and-so is dead wrong on this issue" or even "So and so thinks this, and I have no stance whatsoever", I have not provided enough information - the theory of So-and-so can be relevant, its qualities might be relevant, the extra evidence that makes it look compelling may be relevant, but if I still do not accept it, I should say so in a clear manner - unless I have made this clear elsewhere; if I just include the theory for no reason whatsoever in my text, I am failing my reader - he or she has no chance of figuring out what significance I ascribe to the things I mention.

This also relates to clarity - the reader should be able to understand the meaning of the text without having to play a game with the author or performing feats of telepathy. Constantly having to second-guess without any way of verifying when the second-guessing was right or wrong is of no use.

If we assumed this essay already had reached its end, there would be an observation about it to add: I violate the maxim of quantity and maybe that of relevance; there is no reason to bring up neural networks at the point I brought them up. They are there as an empty mumbo-jumbo statement that in no way contributes to what I am saying; I invoke them as though just invoking them made my argument right - as if it were some kind of magical invocation. There probably would exist any number of better psychological things to look at to realize why we occasionally misinterpret what we read or hear. However, I have no background whatsoever in psychology, although I have taken classes on neural networks from a computer science point of view. In retrospect, it does serve a role - it illustrates how an irrelevant point can seem relevant to an unwary reader.

In a follow-up post, probably tomorrow, I will go on to explain how this makes my reading of Acharya's books reasonable even when her fans accuse me of maliciously misrepresenting her. Their explanations of the claims either rely on information not present in the books, on cutting out entire bits of sentences, and on peculiar reasoning that operate on the assumption that Acharya expresses her points in extremely unclear wordings.