David Hume

That David Hume, he wrote a book,

So I thought I would take a look:

Then all my time it did consume -

He wrote a book, that David Hume

To write his tome, he had no cause,

For skeptical of cause he was:

No he, no self, was there at home,

He had no cause to write this tome

Why read or write, if naught exists?

Yet on and on, the book persists:

A skeptic lacking one insight --

If naught exists, why read or write?

Hume’s Dilemma – Probabilistic Thinking

Behavior is often called “rational”
When it uses mathematical probabilities
To predict the future

A moment’s thought, however
Causes us to realize
We don’t know future probabilities

The world doesn’t work like a roulette wheel
Where there are a finite number
Of contrived outcomes; nevertheless –

The usual assumption is that
Future probability
Is identical to past frequency

Which is irrational

Therefore, in order to be rational
We must be irrational

Before you dismiss all of this
As so much logic chopping

The amount of modern life
Dictated to us
By people claiming
With high mathematical probability

To know the future

Of the entire planet or universe

The solution is not to dispense with predictions
(Which, it must be admitted,
Is what the author of these words
Does for a living)

But to couch them
With due humility
As to the limits of such things

And not use them
As a giant con
Designed to fool
The mathematically uninitiated