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Ask Two Geniuses: Conversation with Christian Sorensen and Erik Haereid on Paradox, Thinking About the World, Substantive Reality Statements, and Other Options (Part Two)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/07/15


Rick Rosner and I conduct a conversational series entitled Ask A Genius on a variety of subjects through In-Sight Publishing on the personal and professional website for Rick. This series with Erik and Christian build in this idea. Erik Haereid earned a score at 185, on the N-VRA80. He is an expert in Actuarial Sciences. Christian Sorensen earned a score at 185+, i.e., at least 186, on the WAIS-R. He is an expert in philosophy. Both scores on a standard deviation of 15. A sigma of ~5.67 for Erik – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 136,975,305 – and a sigma of ~5.67+ for Christian – a general intelligence rarity of more than 1 in 136,975,305, at least 1 in 202,496,482. Neither splitting hairs nor a competition here; we agreed to a discussion, hopefully, for the edification of the audience here. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population. This amounts to a joint interview or conversation with Christian Sorensen, Erik Haereid, and myself.

Keywords: Christian Sorensen, Erik Haereid, language, paradox, philosophy, reality.

Ask Two Geniuses: Conversation with Christian Sorensen and Erik Haereid on Paradox, Thinking About the World, Substantive Reality Statements, and Other Options (Part Two)[1],[2]*

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Okay, so, we’ve covered some of the more foundational concepts for philosophy setting forth some of the foundations for the ideas in a lot of other fields of interest and research, etc. I want to focus more on paradox here. Are there others forms of -dox given a different prefix than para- providing a novel or, at least intriguing notion of the logically surface inexplicable or apparently nonsensical while containing some deeper truth about the nature of reality? Christian, you focused on “deep meaning and the effect it causes are logical”; Erik, you honed in on the ‘perceptually unexplained…logical self-contradiction’ that invites further critical examination. Also on this idea of paradox, is this a unified sense of inviting further critical examination to come to the deeper logical consistency and meaning?

Christian Sorensen: On purpose of ​​the idea of paradox, I think that within syllogistically thinking, although it is possible to make a distinction between logical validity and truth, an imprecision regarding the latter, appears evidently when it’s understood as an indicator of internal consistency, within propositional reasoning. In turn, if the truth is associated to the consistence of its meaning, then I will conclude that what occurs, is what I am going to denominate as a linguistic break. Meaning in relation to reasoning, in my opinion, necessarily refers to the language and to its structure, and therefore, to an intrinsic and invariable fact, which I will name as the barrier of meaning, since internally splits the symbolic character of language, by not allowing the existence of any communication within the symbol as such, nor between the symbols among them, when they make up a linguistic chain. Consequently along the reasoning process, if it is not possible strictly speaking, to find out any sort of unity of meaning, which necessarily leads to a degree of inconsistency, then it would not be plausible to relate logic with truth, in no sense and regardless of the matter of the judgment.

Erik Haereid: Orthodox, maybe, in the sense that one is a true believer (It’s not novel, though). Paradoxes are true beyond its rational discrepancy. It’s based on intuition, feelings, multiple meanings, semantics. One could maybe say that an orthodox is sure about what he or she believes in, although the belief is irrational; not yet proven rationally. God may exist, but the only way to know is through irrational channels, like emotional divine experiences. So, rationally we don’t know. Maybe God exists. Irrationally many knows that God exists. You could replace “God” by any unproved phenomena.

To your other question: This must be linked to our continuous search for truth, i.e. the search for a logical reality. This is our mind map. We project sensory experiences and categorize it based on different patterns and our reason, and all this reveals itself as what we know as “thoughts”. But the mind is only a projection; our map of reality. Our goal is to improve this map, as in an eternal and continuous process. This process will never end as a mind map, and this is my assumption, because it will never be able to contain the power of definition; what started it all. Since the mind map is rational per se, it will not be able to imagine an irrational beginning (for example, that we do not grasp black holes in the Universe; it literally becomes a mental black hole). And since the beginning is necessarily irrational (my assumption), we will never be able to understand everything in the sense that we can imagine it. A possible and logical explanation for an imaginary end is thus that our (common, collective) consciousness culminates towards zero as we approach a rational explanation of everything; to understand everything is the same as to understand nothing. Sense is thus only a journey, a tool, as part of a wider and different sense; beyond. The more we understand the less we need to be conscious, since consciousness is an aid to understand and not a goal in itself (my premise). What is then the point with human rationality? We don’t know. It’s inside the black hole; the well of irrationality including unrevealed rationality. Evolving is a drive, and paradoxes are among the motivating phenomena.

In this sense, we cannot understand everything until we understand nothing. And this is in itself a paradox.

In this light, we can regard paradoxes as small hints about our common final outcome, and thus about what we are able to understand and not; a kind of “god’s” hints. And perhaps this is the answer, and so that the exploration of paradoxes must be about the boundary cases between the rational and the irrational, on the boundary between before and just after the beginning, and before and just after the end. We will never be able to understand paradoxes as anything else than just this, and thus they create a profound respect, not for what we do not know, but for what we can never know.

Jacobsen: On the possible and the impossible, in a binary or Aristotelian system of thinking, the idea of that which can exist and that which cannot exist become the only two states, while in more pluralistic logics the gradations of existence mean degrees of certainty in terms of existence with existence and non-existence or the possible and the impossible as degrees of the possible and degrees of the impossible or an interpretive sense, i.e., the possible or the impossible in particular contexts or interpretations of the status of the possible and impossible. What form of thinking – binary or multinary – seems to best reflect the nature of the real world?

Sorensen: I think that the thought that best reflects the nature of the real world, is dialectic, since in my opinion, duality and contraposition are its best represented properties. In this way, binary as counterpart, in terms of being or not being, and of possibility or impossibility, doesn’t captures the fact which regards to the becoming of the real. In other words, that the latest is not completely encrypted, neither in one or the other, but rather in the coexistence of both. Therefore when a certain thing is being, there is something in it, that at the same time is ceasing to be, to the extent that if the former is occurring, due to a condition of possibility, then the latest, will occur graces to a contrary condition, who will prevent its being, by withdrawing part of it.

Haereid: It’s quite obvious that the multinary form of thinking reflects the real world best. But I would say both. Every possible way of establishing rationality in mind is proper. We calculate degrees of certainty all the time, all life, intuitively. Developing these procedures into conscious rational methods, e.g. math, statistics, is a part of being aware of these our internal traits, and enhance them. To calculate possibilities for events and entities are one way of getting closer to a rational experienced truth, like in weather forecast. The mind map is getting better. But this does not exclude the 1/0’s; possible or not. In my view, defining something as impossible is focusing on what we see as possible. We are not able to implement everything at the same time.

Jacobsen: Following from the aforementioned question, would this make existence and non-existence, the potential and the actual, determinate or more indeterminate in terms of statements one can make about them? In that, the world would be statistical, rather than not, in terms of the substantive statements one can make about reality. 

Sorensen: Since from my point of view, reality would be intrinsically contradictory and conflicted… The aforementioned could lead to an ultimate consequence, which implies that reality in some way and degree is respectively ungraspable and unreal. Therefore it’s presumable that the real as such, it’s going to be probabilistic but not statistical, since there will always be a part, respecting to its existence, of which in either sense, nothing could be pronounced at all.

Haereid: Reality is what we experience it as; sense, perceive, feel, think. Thoughts are maps, and in a deductive and inductive approach to understand the world rationally, it reduces the gap between thoughts (approximations of reality) and reality using rational tools (like statistics). But this mental creation could be, and probably are, only a small bit of reality. Experiencing something that fits our thought map is not the same as revealing reality as it is. Making qualified assumptions, based on statistics or some other tools, is part of our inborn mental capacity. The world we reveal in the sense of being conscious, is statistical. The world we don’t know yet, or never will get to know, is not statistical. If we think something could happen, calculate a probability between 0 and 1 to measure degrees of possible occurrences, its still just a thought; a map over reality. It could lead us to bits of reality, but not define it. To reveal the deterministic bits of reality, the rational part of it, does not prove that some parts of reality is not irrational or indeterministic. It’s like science and falsification; you can prove rationality or rational truth forever without knowing if there is one black swan among all the white ones. It’s like being imprisoned in a house without windows and never see anything else than what’s inside that house. We are all rational beings, and we live in that house. We assume that there is a world outside, but no one can tell if its rational or irrational, if its deterministic or not.

Jacobsen: Does 1 plus 1 always equal 2? If so, why? If not, why not?

Sorensen: No, since sometimes 1 plus 1 equals 1, if it’s known how to count to 3.

Haereid: I stick with the arithmetic one. 1+1=2 given a set of rules and axioms; annihilation, symmetry and the Peano axiom. It means that you can show it mathematically using some basic principles. For instance, 1 is 0 and one unit, defined “one” or “1”. The next unit is 1 and another unit, and that we define as “2” or “two”. And so on. Through some obvious rules about how numbers behave in an addition (annihilation and symmetry), we gain 1+1=2.

Jacobsen: Any other options than determinism and indeterminism?

Sorensen: Yes, pseudo-indeterminism.

Haereid: What does it mean that everything is predetermined? That someone / something has decided that (my assumption). The formulas must have a beginning. And for them to have a beginning, they must be created by a power of definition. The defining power is necessarily irrational; outside the explicable and predictable. If this can be explained, then it will always have an inexplicable start, no matter where we start the process of understanding it all.

If we claim that “there is no start”, no creator of it all, then this is irrational, and thus beyond our comprehension. For us to be able to understand it all, there must be a start or something beyond (my assumption). But for it to be a start, it must be a start that we cannot fathom. Every comprehensible beginning is always a continuation of something we do not understand.

This explanatory model necessarily consists of both an indeterministic start and a wholly or partly deterministic continuation. All the things we then do not understand can be possible to understand, i.e. deterministic but not yet understood by us, or they can be impossible to understand, i.e. a component of the irrational and indeterministic beginning.

Reality in this mindset becomes a mixture of deterministic and indeterministic as long as we cannot understand it rationally. It is one thing to claim that God exists, quite another to say that you believe in God. The first is wrong because we do not know, the second is right because you know.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Christian Sorensen is a Philosopher that comes from Belgium. What identifies him the most and above all is simplicity, for everything is better with “vanilla flavour.” Perhaps, for this reason, his intellectual passion is criticism and irony, in the sense of trying to reveal what “hides behind the mask,” and give birth to the true. For him, ignorance and knowledge never “cross paths.” What he likes the most in his leisure time, is to go for a walk with his wife.

Erik Haereid has been a member of Mensa since 2013, and is among the top scorers on several of the most credible IQ-tests in the unstandardized HRT-environment. He is listed in the World Genius Directory. He is also a member of several other high IQ Societies.

Erik, born in 1963, grew up in OsloNorway, in a middle class home at Grefsen nearby the forest, and started early running and cross country skiing. After finishing schools he studied mathematics, statistics and actuarial science at the University of Oslo. One of his first glimpses of math-skills appeared after he got a perfect score as the only student on a five hour math exam in high school.

He did his military duty in His Majesty The King’s Guard (Drilltroppen)).

Impatient as he is, he couldn’t sit still and only studying, so among many things he worked as a freelance journalist in a small news agency.  In that period, he did some environmental volunteerism with Norges Naturvernforbund (Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature), where he was an activist, freelance journalist and arranged ‘Sykkeldagen i Oslo’ twice (1989 and 1990) as well as environmental issues lectures. He also wrote some crime short stories in A-Magasinet (Aftenposten (one of the main newspapers in Norway), the same paper where he earned his runner up (second place) in a nationwide writing contest in 1985. He also wrote several articles in different newspapers, magazines and so on in the 1980s and early 1990s.

He earned an M.Sc. degree in Statistics and Actuarial Sciences in 1991, and worked as an actuary novice/actuary from 1987 to 1995 in several Norwegian Insurance companies. He was the Academic Director (1998-2000) of insurance at the BI Norwegian Business School (1998-2000), Manager (1997-1998) of business insurance, life insurance, and pensions and formerly Actuary (1996-1997) at Nordea in Oslo Area, Norway, a self-employed Actuary Consultant (1996-1997), an Insurance Broker (1995-1996) at Assurance Centeret, Actuary (1991-1995) at Alfa Livsforsikring, novice Actuary (1987-1990) at UNI Forsikring.

In 1989 he worked in a project in Dallas with a Texas computer company for a month incorporating a Norwegian pension product into a data system. Erik is specialized in life insurance and pensions, both private and business insurances. From 1991 to 1995 he was a main part of developing new life insurance saving products adapted to bank business (Sparebanken NOR), and he developed the mathematics behind the premiums and premium reserves.

He has industry experience in accounting, insurance, and insurance as a broker. He writes in his IQ-blog the online newspaper Nettavisen. He has personal interests among other things in history, philosophy and social psychology.

In 1995, he moved to Aalborg in Denmark because of a Danish girl he met. He worked as an insurance broker for one year, and took advantage of this experience later when he developed his own consultant company.

In Aalborg, he taught himself some programming (Visual Basic), and developed an insurance calculation software program which he sold to a Norwegian Insurance Company. After moving to Oslo with his girlfriend, he was hired as consultant by the same company to a project that lasted one year.

After this, he became the Manager of business insurance in the insurance company Norske Liv. At that time he had developed and nurtured his idea of establishing an actuarial consulting company, and he did this after some years on a full-time basis with his actuarial colleague. In the beginning, the company was small. He had to gain money, and worked for almost two years as an Academic Director of insurance at the BI Norwegian Business School.

Then the consultant company started to grow, and he quitted BI and used his full time in NIA (Nordic Insurance Administration). This was in 1998/99, and he has been there since.

NIA provides actuarial consulting services within the pension and life insurance area, especially towards the business market. They was one of the leading actuarial consulting companies in Norway through many years when Defined Benefit Pension Plans were on its peak and companies needed evaluations and calculations concerning their pension schemes and accountings. With the less complex, and cheaper, Defined Contribution Pension Plans entering Norway the last 10-15 years, the need of actuaries is less concerning business pension schemes.

Erik’s book from 2011, Benektelse og Verdighet, contains some thoughts about our superficial, often discriminating societies, where the virtue seems to be egocentrism without thoughts about the whole. Empathy is lacking, and existential division into “us” and “them” is a mental challenge with major consequences. One of the obstacles is when people with power – mind, scientific, money, political, popularity – defend this kind of mind as “necessary” and “survival of the fittest” without understanding that such thoughts make the democracies much more volatile and threatened. When people do not understand the genesis of extreme violence like school killings, suicide or sociopathy, asking “how can this happen?” repeatedly, one can wonder how smart man really is. The responsibility is not limited to let’s say the parents. The responsibility is everyone’s. The day we can survive, mentally, being honest about our lives and existence, we will take huge leaps into the future of mankind.

[2] Individual Publication Date: July 15, 2020:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2020:


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