Description

Steve Patterson is a rationalist philosopher and intellectual entrepreneur working outside of academia. He is the host of Patterson in Pursuit, a podcast featuring deep conversations with top thinkers in logic, mathematics, quantum physics and other areas.

He is also the author of What’s The Big Deal About Bitcoin and the forthcoming book Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge.

Steve has been traveling around the world interviewing experts on everything from quantum physics to Christian theology, searching for answers to the questions most often cited by supporters of mystical, post-modern, and other worldviews that propose truth is ultimately unknowable.

We discuss academia, and how math and infinity relate to objective truth.

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Meet the hosts

I'm an entrepreneur, thinker, and communicator dedicated to the relentless pursuit of freedom. I'm the founder and CEO of Praxis, an intensive ten-month program combining real world business experience with the best of online education for those who want more than college.

discussions

  • There are many problems with the standard neoclassical microecon treatment of firms and production, most of which involve the super-mathematization of every decision, technology, and relationship. One problem that I don’t see emphasized in the critique literature, however, is the blind eye to what influences the costs of production.  Your typical neoclassical production function shows that output is some mathematical function of combinations of capital and labor, and therefore cost functions are simply those optimal quantities multiplied by their respective prices. But, what determines the prices of capital and labor? A mainstream economist would shrug and say “input prices are exogenous”. This is certainly false. We know that input prices are determined by the valuations of entrepreneurs, who value capital and labor precisely as much as they expect to profit by employing said inputs–and these profits, as we all know, are wholly dependent on how folks value the produced good. Said another way, input prices are determined by consumer demands for the goods they produce! I’m reluctant to bring this up to a mainstreamer, out of fear they’d just stick a utility function into their cost functions and call it “fully identified”.

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  • I am entirely new to the actual practice of homeschooling, though I have been aware of it for many years. I recently got engaged to an incredible woman who has two daughters (10, 11)  who are not exactly keen on learning basic mathematics. One actively avoids it, even telling me that when she asks a question she immediately lets her mind wander so she does not have to hear the answer. So…. suggestions for getting them self motivated to learn at least the basics of mathematics?

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  • Let me get your thoughts on this. I’m not a philosopher but I’ve noticed it seems like people – even professional philosophers are confused about what they can and can’t know. You know Descartes guy? asked, “what can I know for sure” eventually came to, “I think therefore I am.” He thought (correctly) that the only thing you can know for certain is that you’re having a subjective experience. You might not know what that experience means but you know you’re having it. You know you exist because to experience is to exist, but everything else you think you know is not what you know but what you believe. I think that’s right but if you think I’m off base, let me know. So here’s where people seem to go wrong: they seem to think that means everything is up for grabs – that there is no truth, that all other things are equally uncertain. This assumption to me seems to manifest in such things as post modernism. But the assumption is not true is it? Some beliefs we may hold about what our subjective experience means may be true and others are almost certainly not. See, after that subjective experience we have to use tools to discern the difference between those beliefs that are probably true, and those beliefs that are probably not true. Its these tools that help us decide what to believe as “true.” And what are those tools? Logic mostly, which is usually dependent on evidence and reason. But anyway, my whole point is this is theory is very simple, its easy to understand and intuitive. It seems to me that if philosophers and thinkers would just recognize this basic fact about the scope, composition and nature of knowledge a lot of confusion and ill-conceived beliefs would be weeded out of the dialogue and civilization. What do you think? Is my premise right? Would it make a difference at all?

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