Wet Streets Make Rain

Wet Streets Make Rain

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Brett Stevens



Michael Crichton observed years ago that the press thinks backwards. That is, they use rationalization rather than cause-effect reasoning, which leads to “wet streets make rain” stories. What we might add is that the press does this because civilization at large does it and fears any other approach to thinking.

You may recall how years ago the writers on this site hammered hard on cause-effect logic and its great pitfall, the reversed cognition of a B->A error. The workings of cause-effect and why this error is so seductive can be explained through a few basic examples.

  • A->B: it has rained, so the streets are wet.
  • B->A: the streets are wet, so it has rained.

At first, nothing seems wrong with the B->A statement. After all, generally speaking, if you go outside and the streets are wet, this is a good indication that rain has fallen. It could also be a water truck, burst water line, overflowing river, or carefully constructed illusion, therefore B->A is not correct.

Logical deductions of this nature apply to what is true all of the time. Unless the streets are covered, rain will make them wet. Since someone with a hose can make the streets wet too, we cannot say that the streets being wet signify that it has rained, since this is not always true.

With statements made by other people however you only get the second part. That is, someone tells you that kids are poor because of racism, and never mentions that the kids are poor for another reason, and racism is a reaction to that. In this case, there may be another reason the streets are wet even if it also rained.

Imagine you are in a mountain town. The snow melts in the peaks above, runs down the mountain, and swells the rivers over their banks. The streets are now wet because the town has flooded. Then it rains. The streets are wet for an unrelated reason, but it did also rain, so we have a more complex fact pattern.

Now we should try the taboo at the center of the rot that is modernity:

  • A->B: the kid scores low on IQ tests, so he is poor.
  • B->A: the kid is poor, so he scores low on IQ tests.

The poor are dumber than the wealthy. There are some rare exceptions like hermits and fanatics, but otherwise, the rule holds true. Those who can do more, receive more, mainly because others depend on their being able to do more, and therefore pay more for it than those who can do less.

For almost all questions of differences or inequality between individuals or groups, the answer is genetics. We accept that genes are the blueprint for us, but find it upsetting that this means that we have different abilities, especially intelligence.

If equality hates one thing, it is intelligence, or the ability to adapt our thinking to feedback from our environment, which means that intelligence is valuable and also, varies widely between individuals.

They hate the thought that someone knows better. It upsets them that someone else can write a symphony, create a rocket, or figure out irrigation. It bothers them that someone else has an ability that they cannot understand which places this person ahead in the quest to make sense of our world and make our place in it.

Most of all, they detest that someone might hold them back from their baser instincts. A conservative who points out that drugs, casual sex and dating, excessive alcohol, gambling, and overeating are self-destructive will not be popular among the Herd, who want to hear that they can do these things without consequences.

Equality hates the long term as well. It wants gratification right now, and if someone else knows better about what will happen in a year, ten years, a century, or worst of all history including the future, that person is its enemy. The egalitarians detest anyone with vision past the next period or before the previous one.

The root of equality is individualism, or “me first above all else.” That is what an ism is: a preference for its root (individual) over everything else, or a desire to use that root first and worry later about any other options. Individualism means humans rejecting reality in favor of human desires.

Individualists are anti-realists because they view reality as a competitor for control. If they admit that Darwin was right, the goal of life is to adapt to the environment, and that intelligence reflects an ability to change thinking and therefore actions, then individualism has no place because it impedes this process (and vice-versa).

To think, one notices the response of the world to actions and then tailors those actions to match. This requires tracing an effect (response to action) to cause (action itself and really, its design pattern). If you think wet streets cause rain, your weather reporting is going to be very inaccurate.

Popular lore talks about confusing correlation and causation, but humans more frequently confuse cause and effect. We see that both streets are wet and rain has fallen, so assume that B->A instead of A->B. We do this because it makes us feel in control to assign the most tangible event as the cause, since we have control over it.

In the eternal solipsism of the human mind, it is convenient to think that wet streets cause rain because then, since we can wet the streets, we control the rain. We are gods in our own monkey minds. This makes us feel good for a few moments, then the doubt creeps in, and we need another hit of godness.

Humans make a religion of confusing cause and effect. In the human view, there is only a binary: what I want, and what the world did to me, an innocent victim of oppression by reality (which means, therefore, reality itself is evil and must be banned from mention in polite company).

Individualism took over because faith in God died because God had been made into a jobs program. That is, God became used as a symbol to manipulate the herd, but by making God moral, we made God into a functional entity, at which point people cut out any mention of anything but themselves and went to the source.

We can understand their confusion. We know the gods through ourselves; that is, our intuition informs us that there is more going on here than the visible and material, and that there are “realms beyond.” People confuse the signal with the source, like they confuse the symbol for the referent.

Our intuition is of course unequal. An esotericist would remind us that only some are called, and each has his own path, with some going farther than others. The next door appears only when the hallway is traversed, and in the hallways of the always, there are many doors.

That, too, is genetics. Those who are sharper, more honest, and can handle more complexity will see more doors and potentially open more doors than the dull. This was why they made God a moral symbol in the first place, so that the herd felt they were not being left out of secret mysteries that they could not understand and would see as gibberish anyway.

Most human thinking follows the B->A error of “wet streets make rain” by treating effects as causes. Poverty is an effect of stupidity, but we try instead to tackle poverty directly, which mostly enriches the liquor stores, lotteries, and layaway shops.

This is classic means-over-ends thinking. Ends-over-means thinking requires a goal, but means-over-ends demands only approved methods, processes, morals, etc. which are fixed and unchanging, because the goal is always the same, namely the projection of human godness.

If we are growing out of anything with the failure of democracy a quarter of the way through the twenty-first century, it may be the idea of universal, absolute, and objective truths, values, and communications which are in fact merely human project. We are screaming “wet streets make rain” into a void that neither hears nor cares.

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