bloody money-obsessed, value-less left

ok so disney wouldn't distribute moore's movie. said it was un-patriotic. didn't want it.

now it makes money. the lefty news seems to think disney is now mad about missing out on the cash. *ahem*

but it gets worse. they allege the movie is being censored (via an R rating) by angry disney stock owners. who, they implied, were mad for financial reasons.

in other words, the LEFT is so hell-bent on looking at things through the lens of money, that when people do something on principle, they can't see it. and say incoherent things (getting the unfair rating would have had to happen b4 the film made any money.... makes much more sense they censored it b/c they don't like it) when they explanation the right did something bad on principle works so much better (still bad, but much better).


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Information, Alcohol, Genes

Alcohol cannot have complex effects on human personalities. Just the same as banging your head. Why? Well, the alcohol we drink is one fairly simple molecule. It doesn't have information about human personalities, and thus couldn't target parts of one. And it's not evolved in that regard (no selection pressure).

But couldn't it just happen to be the right thing to have one specific effect?

Well, first off, now you're explaining things by "maybe the world just happens, by luck, to be just the way I thought it was."

And secondly, if it only takes something as simple as alcohol (the molecule isn't many thousands of atoms, just a few) to make people more liable to cheat on their girlfriends, then why haven't we yet designed a chemical to make people act more chaste?

Thirdly, people are very different, and store information in their brains differently. They vary so much as to confuse scientists, so what are the chances a plant happened to grow in a way to work on everyone (including past people, even).

---------

Genes also lack the information to complexly effect one's personality.

Genes also never got a chance to evolve this ability, because once people had personalities and there were selection pressures on them, memes, which evolve much faster, would always do it first thus removing the selection pressure.

And again, it would be quite a huge feat of luck for some gene to just happen to have the right qualities to effect the personalities of many different people.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (27)

Ageism

this is amusing. It states you must be 18 to use their service, and also states they do not discriminate on the basis of age.


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IMAO good

Frank,


No moral compass points exactly perfectly straight. We all have some flaws. And also, we all have somewhat *different* sets of flaws.


So when you write about what you're best at, it will help a lot of your readers to improve, and straighten their moral compasses. This applies even if they don't notice, and even if you don't notice.


So know you have done and are doing good, and feel proud.

Posted on IMAO in this thread


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)

Charity

was just in an argument with people who think the value of money in the hands of hungry people is more than the value of that money in the hands of rich people. and who think foodstamps are better than monetary charity. they seem to imagine all their charity cases as having American values and being fairly moral people. except people like that don't end up starving. the vast vast majority of starving ppl suck and use resources very badly.


Imagine a man who spends his days trying to get a chance to rape his neighbor's wife or steal something. At dinner, he serves himself first, as much as he likes. Sometimes he takes all the food. His family splits the rest. Half the time he doesn't finish what he takes, and then throws it away. If he catches anyone trying to take his food from the trash, he beats them. Even if he doesn't, he beats his family regularly anyway.

The wife is submissive, uncreative, and supports her husband. She thinks he is a great man and doesn't feel mistreated.

The children will grow up to be just like their parents.

Do you want to give this family charity?

And imagine they get some. It goes to the father buying whores and booze and maybe the odd donation to a nice charity like Hamas.

But that's why it's foodstamps not money, you say?

Well, if the foodstamps provide less or equal food to the current budget, then they just buy that much less, and preso chango the foodstamps are just like money.

What if they foodstamps provide more food than they currently buy? Well first off they stop buying their own food and get that money. Then they could sell the extra, or just throw it out if it's not very much. Or maybe, just maybe, the male kids will get to eat it. Even if they do, how did that help anything? They grow up big and strong to better beat their families and sap Western resources.

BTW it's not hard to imagine people much worse than the ones I described.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Anger Bad (Cause David Earned Forgiveness Goddammit)

I like composing on AIM.

curi42 (1:40:05 AM): if sum1 gets angry at u (wants to hurt u) then in future interactions u spend creativity trying to avoid this happening again. this creativity doesn't go to progress. and with avg ppl in our society, for just one or two instances of anger, we're talking a large proportion of all the creativity going to the interaction.
curi42 (1:41:52 AM): but that's not the only drain! even if someone has never been mad at you, if you know of any hangups they have (that you don't know how to fix), you get to spend creativity skirting them. any sort of potential meanness or immorality too.
curi42 (1:42:31 AM): this includes things as subtle as if you mention X, person will ask followup questions probably including something about Y, which will be awkward, because either for your own reasons "nevermind" would be hard to say, or b/c person won't stop pushing there.
curi42 (1:43:07 AM): almost all of this work is done inexplicitly. it just comes out as feelings of being uncomfortable with a potential action.
curi42 (1:44:06 AM): in some cases, for example socially akward situations where speaking would be a good idea, this is even known to manifest itself as being at a total loss for words
curi42 (1:45:21 AM): for most of these issues, absolutely the last way to fix it would be to sit in a circle and reveal your most private feelings on the matter. if that was gonna happen, it would only make people far more cautious to avoid issues they aren't comfortable with coming up at all (and thus progress on them happening)
curi42 (1:46:09 AM): but aside from the honesty and caring lefty solution, this problem is barely acknowledged to exist and no solutions are proffered.

to clarify, "absolutely the last way to fix it would be to sit in a circle..." isn't just a huge understatement. doing this would not only not fix it, but would hurt things.

also to clarify, the lefty example is just one example chosen b/c i don't like circle types. the point b4 is general.

PS if the title confuses u, look at the capital letters


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Food For Thought

Take two IMAO fans. They are right-wing, hate commies, etc

One is a former socialist, the other was raised right-wing. Who understands socialism better? Probably the former socialist. He's also more likly to have commie sympathies, but that's another issue.

The point is being a former-X generally means having a pretty good understanding of X. Because actually being X usually means understanding it well.

Now, imagine someone who was a former everything. Every important tradition, he's either a former or current member.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (11)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Atheism

this is a draft i wrote a few hours ago. if i were to write it again, i'd change lots of stuff. i consider it flawed. however, i think most of the improvements i'd make wouldn't really make the ideas much more interesting. i'll get more right next time. *shrug*

Christians generally don't argue very well explicitly. From all their "scientific" evidence against evolution, to resorting to defending the existence of God by appeal to faith. From thinking that beatings can teach people, and often thus not being interested in coming up with arguments to use on that set of people who should be beaten, to appealing to the authority of priests, God, or holy books. From "you can't prove God doesn't exist" to "we hold these truths *self-evident*". (If you think any of these are done by, say, less than 20% of US Christians, lemme know.)

However, despite all this, these people have a lot of good, true ideas to offer, especially with regard to morality. The Christian tradition has 2,000 years of monotheism ("One God from Whom comes morality" they might say. But the key is they believe there exists is only one morality for all people.)

Now, combine good, valuable ideas with bad arguing. Who learns these ideas from them? Only people who want to. And it's not a matter of just deciding you'd like to know what they do, and reading a few books. The only known way to reliably learn these things is to identify with the tradition, and to honestly enjoy it. And then, one day, after sufficient interaction, most of their claims that they treat as manifest truth, will *feel* true to you, even though they were never *argued* persuasively to you.

Anyone who did this, who really cared about the Christian tradition, would not want to identify themselves as an atheist. (This is why it's hard to find many people who call themselves atheists in the US.) People who do call themselves atheists either oppose the Christian tradition (learned and then rejected the stuff), or are ignorant of it.

And that's why atheists are frowned on so much. Wicked or ignorant, take your pick.

You can read Samizdata and USS Clueless until your eyes fall out, but the moral content won't be there. Do they *ever* assert that we are the good guys, or that certain people are the bad guys? Nah, that's simplisme. On the other hand, if you read IMAO or Scrappleface or The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, you will find moral claims (albeit unargued) all over the place. And for members of the tradition, who understand why these claims are considered true, that the arguments aren't repeated everytime simply doesn't matter.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (7)

Den Beste Criticism

entry

Please don't waste your time trying to talk me out of my atheism. You won't do it. Believe me, I've heard all the arguments before.

I've always felt that it was rude and presumptuous for someone to try to convert someone else who has strong convictions unless they ask for help and guidance. (And I definitely do not want any.)

ummm, lessee. he says his atheism is immune to criticsm. he claims to know all arguments that exist against atheism.

is it presumptuous to criticise someone with strong convictions? more like the reverse. it's presumptuous to think you're so perfect that no one has any useful criticism of you.

I do understand that he gets lots of mail and it makes sense to try and get less mail on a subject where the mail tends to be really bad. But why doesn't he write, "If I don't know you, please don't send me email about atheism. I won't read it because I'm busy with other stuff."? Instead he goes off saying all sorts of crap and never even mentions this. In fact, this defense of his position may not be true. Maybe he skims all his email and doesn't mind the time -- enjoys doing it. We don't know.

Den Beste asks If I suffer amnesia, did I die?

This is a question of the form: if word 1, then does that mean word 2?

This is semantics.

I can divine what issues he's confused about from this question. But from almost everyone he'd get much better quality responses if he managed not to ask about semantics. Because a respondent needs to be |337 (elite) enough to totally ignore his explicit question (and probably explain why when Den Beste tries to insist on discussing semantics).

The issue he's actually interested in is what is important about a person. The answer is his worldview. Amnesia thus destroys the person if it's permanent. If it's potentially temporary, then the information is still there, and we could say the worldview is in stasis or something like that.

Notice i didn't mention death. Because death is strongly associated with bodies. It'd be standard to say someone who had amnesia did not die. What happened to him? Amnesia, which is equivalent to destruction of what's important about him, but not his body. Notice how this paragraph is really boring and pretty damn useless WRT his question. That's b/c it talks about semantics.

PS I criticise Den Beste in particular not because it's the dumbest thing I ran into lately. Rather, because his blog is one of the best. So the ideas ought to be more interesting to people with |337 worldviews than if I pointed out, again, why headlines like "Israel Puts An Explosive Stop To Peace By Blowing People Up" are wicked. You can always go read LGF anyway.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

meaning

If you're worried that attraction for reasons we create is arbitrary and therefore meaningless:

We created the rules of chess. And of all sports and games. But they are not a waste of time, nor meaningless.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)

physical attraction

when you're born, you aren't physically attracted to anyone.

to be physically attracted to someone, requires some theories about why that person is physically attractive.

we learn these as we grow up. we figure out why certain things are physically attractive.

most guys seem to be physically attracted to woman of all races (at least in movies and in California). even though they look totally different. and also, if they saw a woman of a new race (still human), they would see her as physically attractive right away. (assume she's not fat or ugly)

this means the guys are physically attracted to some qualities common to all women. so, they see these qualities in the new girl, and the racial differences don't change them, so she's hot.

obvious candidate qualities include: breasts, ass, pussy, height, hair style (women of diff races can have same hair style, to a large extent), being skinny, and anyway you get the idea.

what if someone was not quite so indoctrinated as to find anything human shaped with breasts automatically hot?

well, for one thing he would focus on personality more. but lets ignore that. lets say he grows up around only white people. probably, he will find at least some of them hot. but for his own reasons.

now, say he meets some asians. it's totally possible the reasons he found the white people hot will be something asians are physically different about.

for example, if you were making up hotness criteria on your own, you might end up finding certain face types hot. asian faces look a bit different than white ones. it may seem subtle, but it wouldn't if you were really focussed on it.

after some time, our test subject could create some theories about asians being hot too, and become attracted to asians. but these would likely be something exclusive to asians (because if whites had them, he already would have theories about them).

and then if he met some blacks, but they aren't attractive at first. etc

i wonder if this person would be accused of racism. i wonder how many people warp their views on what's physically attractive to avoid being "racist". and i wonder how much sense it makes to find something everyone has very attractive.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (8)

Discussing

Things you contradict you do not endorse.
Things you endorse you do not contradict.

When people write they mention all sorts of things, but are usually only trying to express a few things. I call these things they mean to communicate the substance or main point(s) or the thrust or gist. So, when I say something is the main point, that does not mean it's objectively more fundamental, it simply means it's what the speaker's main point is.

there are two rivals approaches to human interaction that I want to discuss. to illustrate, I'll use Caeli and Isyn.

First, here's:

Caeli's Description Of Both Styles

Caeli, when presented with some theory, first tries to find truth or value in it. She skims over mistakes to try to get the complete idea. And if the idea seems right to her, she doesn't care how many premises are messed up.

Isyn believes that if a theory is criticised, and the criticism is true, then the theory is refuted. He doesn't want to waste his time on false theories, so he always looks for errors. If he sees any, that's that. The theory is false. If he doesn't find errors on the first pass, then he'll evaluate the merit of the theory.

Caeli believes theories are not simply true or false, but rather they are truer or less true. She knows that all progress in human knowledge can be thought of as going from one misconception to another less misconceived one. And so it doesn't seem important to her if a theory has errors, as long as they don't entirely ruin what's being proposed. One common example is statements of the form, "X because Y" where Y seems to be false. Caeli would ignore Y, and consider whether X had merit. Just because the person presenting the theory explicitly claims X has something to do with Y, doesn't mean they actually need to be considered together.

Isyn doesn't want to endorse errors. So he contradicts them. He certainly doesn't want to add errors to his worldview, so he won't add theories with errors in them. When he argues, you can't persuade him if he can find any errors in your suggestion. Even if you find some flaws in his current view, he will sooner take no stance than adopt your faulty new idea.

When you talk to Caeli about one of your new ideas, you generally find yourself discussing just the ideas you were interested in. On the occassions where Caeli insists on going over some side point, Caeli always does it to explain something you will find interesting and relevant. You can make all the errors you want while expressing yourself. From grammar and clumsy terminology, that she doesn't think is best, to appealing to blatantly false theories because they were the best way you could think of immediately to explain what you wanted to, or even because you don't know they're false. Caeli thinks of "not best" as "less true" and won't contradict unless it seems very urgent.

Isyn believes his worldview has no known flaws. Sure, he's fallible, but he's reconciled his worldview with every criticism he's ever encountered. He considers ideas different from his to be criticism, and so discussions with him always revolve around who should change his view to match the other's.

Caeli only criticses your suggestions when she believes you will enjoy the criticism. Usually this is when she believes the criticism is very important to understanding the issue being discussed better, but if she knows you well, she can judge what side issues you will like to hear about also.

Isyn believes everyone either wants to improve *all* their views, or ought to. He doesn't really care about bad people (those who ought to, but don't, want to improve all their views). And so Isyn believes criticism on any subject where you're wrong will help you, unless you are bad.

Caeli looks for ways to improve the ideas you suggest to her. Isyn doesn't bother if he sees any flaws, unless he happens to be in a mood where doing so seems entertaining.

When you argue with Isyn, you almost never discuss what you wanted to. First you argue over terminology and semantics. If yours are different than his, he will not understand what you're talking about, and will only hear what he sees as your semantic misconceptions. And he won't try your semantics out unless you can win that argument with him.

Caeli you don't even have to ask. If you say something she finds strange, she will just quietly find an interpretation that seems to be what you meant. If she can't understand, then she'll ask you to explain what you mean further.

If Isyn can't understand, he'll tell you you don't make sense, and you're therefore wrong.

Next, to argue with Isyn, you have to go over every last premise you give until he's satisfied with them. You might be tempted to not bother with premises, but then Isyn will ask why he ought to think your idea is true. If you say it is just an attempt to explain some part of reality, and its explanatory power seems to you to speak for itself (but only when used...), Isyn will think you're begging the question (assuming your conclusion is right, an invalid way to argue).

Even if you do get the topic to your main point, you won't stay there. First Isyn will tell you every reason that comes to his mind that you're wrong. Then when you defend each criticism, he will tell you every reason that each one of your defenses is wrong. And when you defend those criticisms, he will criticise your newest set of defenses. And so on. This has quite a possibility of continuing on long past the original topic being forgotten. Only when Isyn runs out of criticism at every level will he finally look at the merits of your suggestion.

Isyn is easily distracted. All topics seem to him about equally interesting. When the subject changes, he hardly notices.

Caeli notices when discussions drift, and often tries to bring them back. She knows that arguments thrice removed don't actually have much bearing on what's at issue. Because their relation is as the foundations, or the premises. Such things don't actually exist though. Caeli follows Popper in thinking we don't need verification of our theories (arguments that they are true). And not only that, but we cannot get verification anyway. So no matter how many reasons X is true are refuted ... well X never needed any in the first place. We only give them because it's a good way to explain what we mean by X better.

Isyn gets bored quickly talking to anyone not like Isyn, because, as he sees it, if they don't have the same interest in true theories, they're kinda useless anyway.

Caeli only gets bored talking to people like Isyn, because he rarely says anything she enjoys, and makes Caeli explain all sorts of things that neither of them cares about much (When Isyn offers fifty criticisms, and you defend 48, he won't care about those defenses (except to find flaws in them), and will instead focus on the two criticisms still standing.)

When someone mentions tons of wrong things, caeli tries to ignore it. when caeli understands the substance, and considers it importantly flawed, she is willing to criticise. and also, if someone mentions all sorts of right things, and generally seems brilliant, but then messes up the substance, caeli will be equally willing to criticise it. if someone like Isyn (but a little less extreme) encountered these two situations, he would find the first person mostly/almost-entirely wrong, and the second mostly right.

------------

Isyn's Rebuttal

Caeli forgot to capitalise her name once, thus her theory is false. QED

That's a joke, but you wouldn't know from the way Caeli describes Isyn.

Anyway, there are lots of idiots in the world. Lots. And bad ideas outnumber idiots a hundred to one (more actually). If Caeli really gives every idiot, complete with his hundred bad ideas, a serious hearing, trying to make sense of his crap instead of point out it sucks and move on, well where did she find time to write anything? Seriously, you *can't* give *everyone* that much opportunity to babble at you, or you'll die of old age before you hear three good ideas.

Isyn's approach is to listen until it's clear the guy is dumb, then give him a few reasons he's dumb. If he has some good responses to them, then he's interesting, so Isyn will chat more. If he has crappy responses to the first wave of criticism, then bye. he's done. not wasting any more time. this very first screening actually gets rid of nine out of ten idiots, thus saving tons of time for the people actually worth talking to.

Caeli thinks Isyn just throws criticisms out there, but learns nothing from the ones that are refuted. This isn't true at all. Just because Isyn is smart enough to think of lots of criticism, and smart enough to come up with new ones when some of his fail, and smart enough to find flaws in defenses of criticisms ... well why on earth should that mean when some of his criticisms do fail, he just erases that from memory? Of course he keeps careful track, and won't use the same failed criticism again unless he comes up with an improvement.

Caeli says Isyn strays off topic down long chains of criticism never to return. That's not true. Isyn keeps careful track of what criticisms are pending with regard to what proposed theories. If the people he's talking to can't remember, and can't be bothered to reread (Isyn generally converses in text...) things they forget, and can't keep track of what they are proposing is true, then fuck them, they aren't taking the conversation seriously enough.

Caeli says Isyn doesn't notice topic changes. Well, it's true he doesn't make a big deal about them, and they don't bother him, but he does notice. It's just that Isyn finds almost everything interesting.

Caeli's approach, on the other hand, is seriously flawed. She isn't careful to avoid adopting false ideas. She isn't very discerning about what she finds persuasive. She doesn't aggressively hunt down even her own flaws to correct them. And she certainly isn't helpful enough to find other people's flaws for them. Who would want to talk with her, if all she ever says is that your ideas are pretty nice, although not the best? That's boring. She should point out the flaws she sees, and if she sees none, then be bold and take a stance that the idea is good.

When people are half wrong, they ought to fix their view. Isyn wants to help them do that, and knows good people will be grateful. Caeli, on the other hand, will focus on the little bit the guy gets right, and praise him, and then he'll never improve.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (3)

Rape

Isyn: When you said "a friend" in that blog entry, was it Jack?
curi: *flat voice* I don't wanna answer that.
Isyn: So it *was* Jack?
curi: No. Shut up.
Isyn: Aha. So it was Bill then?
curi: *sounding distressed* Stop it. This is private.
Isyn: Private, eh? That means it must have been a girl. Was it Jill?
curi: No. Erm, I mean, that's none of your business.
Isyn: Not Jill. OK, that only leaves Karen.
curi: *blush* No!
Isyn: I see your face. It was totally Karen. You can't hide it.
curi: *sigh* Please don't tell anyone.

I watched a Dawson's Creek episode yesterday (1x06) with a Truth Or Dare game that was much worse. But this doesn't just happen on TV. It's quite common. Perhaps usually more subtle, but sometimes not even.

-------------

99/100 rape cases don't involve physical force.

Rape is non-consentual sex where the rapist should reasonably have been aware that there wasn't consent. So if a girl says no weakly a few times ... well there's a fairly common things where girls say no and mean yes. But it's also fairly common to say no and mean no. All the later cases constitute rape (albeit not nearly so bad as the physical force variety).

How do these non-physical-force rapes happen?

Girl says no. guy says yes. girl says no again. guy says yes again. girl says no again. guy says yes again. and someone runs out of arguments, confidence, assertiveness, willpower, or whatever, and can't keep it up. (each "yes" or "no" isn't just literally the word, but rather something that means it, from a 3 paragraph argument to a look).

The form of this interaction is not specific to sex. Another situation it works with is telling a secret. Secret-holder says no. Secret-wanter says yes. etc Then someone gives in.

Forcing a secret out of someone like this is, out of the context of our society, morally equivalent to rape (the non-physical-force variety). (In the context of our society, people are better at coping with their secrets getting out than with sex, so the sex tends to be worse. But we could imagine a society where the are equally bad, or sex is less bad.)

---------------

I've observed that something really ingrained in the TCS culture is when people say "nevermind" the subject tends to get dropped. Outside TCS culture, IME (in my experience), it rarely gets dropped at the first nevermind. Saying nevermind often seems to even make people *more* curious and insistent.

Does this nevermind thing matter? What does it mean?

I think we could reasonably say it's the difference between being a rapist or not.

-----------

Rape is when you actually get the sex or secret or whatever out of the person. But also: the more times the person says no, and you ask again, the closer you get.

it's often quite subtle. i'm assertive. i could refuse sex easily. but sometimes i don't want to explain something or talk about something and i *don't* say "i don't wanna talk about that". it's not always so easy. usually i will say nevermind, or not answer. sometimes change subject. (saying "i don't wanna talk about that" has a pretty good success rate when you can say it, but isn't at all foolproof. you might just be asked "Why?" among other things.)

these are easy to do the first time. they tend to get a bit harder to do repeatedly though. it's awkward to say "nevermind" three times in a row, when you know perfectly well it's not answering the person's questions (which may keep varying a bit, or ask about meta issues, or all sorts of things).

you may feel unspoken pressure to be friendly or not be rude. or that might even be explicit. you may care about the other person, and want to make friends or be nice. it might be your boss who you can't offend. it might be your friend's friend, who your friend wants you to get along with. there are many sorts of pressures to make this difficult.

Anyway, this is a serious moral issue that our society doesn't really acknowledge even exists.

Oh, and to return to the start, the dialog is, as you've probably figured out, an example meant to be morally equivalent to rape sans context. (less harmful in our society, but still quite a big deal)


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)

I Don't Feel Like Waiting Until Monday

Jack is very late for first date with Jill. Bob runs into Jill. They chat a little, then Jack shows up. Bob says something nasty to Jack about being late so that Jill will defend Jack. Jill does defend Jack, and they are both mad at Bob, but go on their date and quickly forget about him.

Two points:

1) if Bob did this intentionally to deflect Jill's anger so the date would be more fun, it's entirely different from if Bob is just a jackass who's mean to everyone in sight, even though it's the exact same physical action.

2) Bob does something apparently nasty, and must pretend to mean it for it to work (until the next day, when he could explain if they are still mad at him), but it seems to me a good thing to do.

BTW this situation is from the anime Kare Kano (His and Her Circumstances) which I quite like.


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