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Comment author: ChristianKl 14 February 2016 08:05:19PM *  0 points [-]

All three/two/one are appalling, crippling, terrible syndromes which ruin people's lives. They are fairly common. You almost certainly know one or two sufferers. The suffering is made worse by the fact that most people believe that they're psychosomatic, which is a polite word for 'imaginary'.

I don't think that it's useful to treat imaginary the same as psychosomatic. Quite a lot of illnesses have psychosomatic parts and react to treatment on that level is the treatment is done right. Mostly it's difficult to get good treatment but that is no reason to equate it to imaginary suffering.

Up or downregulating hormones is something that the brain can do.

In response to Say It Loud
Comment author: TruePath 14 February 2016 07:50:57PM 0 points [-]

Sorry, but you can't get around the fact that humans are not well equipped to compute probabilities. We can't even state what our priors are in any reasonable sense much less compute exact probabilities.

As a result using probabilities has come to be associated with having some kind of model. If you've never studied the question and are asked how likely you think it is there are intelligent aliens you say something like "I think it's quite likely". You only answer with a number if you've broken it down into a model (chance life evolves * average time to evolve intelligencechance of disaster..).

Thus, saying something like "70% chance" indicates to most people that you are claiming your knowledge is the result of some kind of detailed computation and can thus be seen as an attempt to claim authority. You can't change this rule on your own.

Thankfully, there are easy verbal alternatives. "Ehh, I guess I would give 3:1 odds on it" and many others. But use of chance/probability language isn't it.

Comment author: Wind 14 February 2016 05:08:09PM 1 point [-]

Yes, that is one plan. I have not done much programming, but I have done enough to know that this is something I am capable of learning.

Comment author: ChristianKl 14 February 2016 04:45:45PM 0 points [-]

I think your post would benefit from you having a tl,dr and a proposal of what kind of study you would run to find out whether you are right.

Comment author: Magnap 14 February 2016 02:29:01PM 0 points [-]

Both the paper and an update to it can be found quite easily on Library Genesis.

Comment author: lisper 14 February 2016 06:47:46AM 0 points [-]

What I found offensive was the idea that we failed to see the spiritual despite of all the mental discipline.

OK, then I'm back to being puzzled about this. There's no more shame in not having spiritual experiences than there is in being color blind.

it's like you're making my arguments for me.

Well, I'm pretty sure that when the dust settles it will turn out that we agree on more than we disagree. In fact, it's a theorem ;-)

Comment author: Romashka 14 February 2016 06:21:40AM 1 point [-]

I wish you luck! Some of the kids from where I work are likely to go there as the Ukrainian team.

Comment author: polymathwannabe 14 February 2016 05:28:39AM 0 points [-]

No, I didn't think your metaphor was meant to imply we failed to see the spiritual because of all the mental discipline. What I found offensive was the idea that we failed to see the spiritual despite of all the mental discipline.

Your example with addicts can backfire. Ex-addicts become good sobriety counselors the same way ex-believers become good advocates for reason. And the whole idea of comparing spirituality with addiction... it's like you're making my arguments for me.

Comment author: lisper 14 February 2016 03:04:45AM *  1 point [-]

If I understand you correctly, you're saying...

Yes, that's pretty much correct, except for one very important thing.

You didn't actually say it, but there's a subtle implication in the way you framed my position that the causality runs in a particular direction, i.e. rationalists strive to discipline their thinking etc. and AS A RESULT lack awareness of an entire field of human experience. That is wrong. In fact, it's exactly backwards. (And I can now understand why you might have found it offensive.)

The causality runs in the opposite direction: some people lack (first-hand) awareness of this important field of human experience, and because they lack this awareness they tend to become rationalists. So this "lack of first-hand awareness" is not necessarily a deficit.

Here's an analogy: some people feel addictive cravings more than others. Someone who doesn't experience addictive cravings might have a hard time empathizing with someone who does because they can't imagine what it's like to have an addictive craving, never having had one of their own. So they might imagine that kicking an addiction is a simple matter of "exercising more self control" or some such thing, and have a hard time understanding why an addict would have such a hard time doing that. In an exactly analogous manner, someone who is not sensitive to spiritual experience might have a hard time understanding or empathizing with someone who does. It does not follow that not feeling addictive cravings is a bad thing.

Rationalists are the last group of people I'd expect to miss something so crucial, if it were real.

That depends a great deal on who you consider "rationalists." I've met a lot of self-identified rationalists but who are not even willing to consider the idea that spiritual experience varies across the human population as a hypothesis worthy of consideration. Heck, this article got so many downvotes early on that it almost cost me my posting privileges here on LW! Harshing on religious people seems to play a very important role in the social cohesion of many groups of people who self-identify as rationalists, and so it's not too surprising that the suggestion that there might be something wrong with that is met with a great deal of hostility. Even self-identified rationalists are still human.

Comment author: Magnap 14 February 2016 02:04:19AM 5 points [-]

I won the Danish National Biology Olympiad semifinal (as 1/15), and thus I qualify for the final, where I will have the chance to be 1 of 4 Danes participating in the International Biology Olympiad.

Comment author: polymathwannabe 14 February 2016 01:00:36AM *  1 point [-]

The blindness metaphor presents spiritual sensitivity as an ability that rationalists lack.

That is exactly the hypothesis I'm advancing.

If I understand you correctly, you're saying that people who strive to discipline their thinking process to constantly improve themselves, become sharper, make fewer mistakes, notice and correct their own biases, revise their opinions, and mercilessly seek their own weak points somehow lack awareness of an entire and tremendously important field of human experience?

Rationalists are the last group of people I'd expect to miss something so crucial, if it were real.

Comment author: Alia1d 13 February 2016 09:23:23PM 0 points [-]

I’m an evangelical protestant and I’d like to give my answer to the ‘what would it take to convince me to become a Muslim’ question. This is going to be a narrative example and thus show only one of many possible routes. I’ve chosen a rout that does not depend on private knowledge, fresh miracle in the present day, or even or even changed facts in things it would be inconceivable for me to be wrong about, because I see this rout as the hardest and therefore most revealing.

Muslim scholars propose a competitor to the Documentary Hypothesis (JEPD) for the Pentateuch and/or Two-source Hypothesis a.k.a. Four-Source Theory for the synoptic gospels that showed instead how these Bible books developed as corruptions of a proto-Koran. This shouldn’t be too hard as the existing popular theories are mostly narrative fallacy + an affective death spiral. It would attract enough attention as politically fashionable that I would hear about it and look it up on biblical Studies blogs. If it actually had plausibility that would increase my expectation that an investigation of the Koran would be fruitful and I would start checking into it more. One of the things I would be looking for is outside evidence such as signs of the supernatural in its origin, specifically miracles done by Mohamed. Not the infancy gospel of Thomas type miracles where it seems likely these are legendary accretions after the fact, but more like what we see in the canonical gospels and epistles where we seem to have a record of contemporary eyewitnesses thinking they saw the laws of nature repeatedly violated. I would also be looking for more internal confirmations like was a consistent but nuanced picture of human nature and how God intends to deal with it presented. Or how is theodicy regarded? As I was evaluating questions like this I would be looking at: One, was the world view presented consistent with the world as it actually is? Two, does the world view presented provide a foundation you can build an approach to life on? To help me evaluate all this I would be looking into both Cristian and Muslim apologist’s answers to these questions. To be convinced to the Muslim position I’d need to run into Muslim apologists who are considerably more rationally coherent than any I have so far heard of. But given what mushy headed nonsense third parties sometimes report as “Christian teaching” there is a selection bias in favor of mushy headedness in what is prominently available to the public. (It’s interesting reading Less Wrong to see that many of the arguments against Christianity are exactly the same arguments that conservative Christians use against Liberal Christians.) Overall I would need to be convinced that Islam was both internally and externally consistent and that in areas where it conflicts with Christianity, Christianity is considerably less credible than I currently find it. This would probably mean finding a large numbers of specific inconsistencies that I have found only a couple of in the past. But the fact that I have found a few means it is conceivable I could find more in the future.

One last objection I need to address is “If the one admits evidence for Islam might be out there, why hasn’t the one check it out yet?” Well it would take months and mouths of work and there are so many other things it might also be profitable to investigate. (Like LessWrong where not only do I get to investigate an alternative world view, that investigation is just a bonus to getting all these neat rational thinking tools that will be of ongoing use to me.) Moreover a negative result would not really be definitive; there would always be the possibility that I had just not found the right Moslem apologists or was not digging into the right version of Islamic theology. So there is no reason I would pick Islam as the thing to invest my time investigating without an additional reason. But if, for example, there was an Islamic theologian who offered to debate the issues with me then I would be inclined to do it and follow where the belief updates lead.

Comment author: bbleeker 13 February 2016 09:31:07AM 1 point [-]

Yeah, that one is better. :-)

Comment author: aphyer 13 February 2016 06:42:49AM 1 point [-]

Besides the obvious benefit of being awesome, I think there could be a more serious benefit to this. One extreme failure mode when imagining the behavior of an AI is not merely to fail to imagine it as being superintelligent but to imagine it as being less intelligent than yourself, as not doing things you could think of (a la That Alien Message). A game that consisted of you, the player, needing to come up with increasingly complicated ways to trick these 'shopkeeper' agents could illustrate this pretty neatly.

Comment author: Clarity 13 February 2016 04:56:37AM 0 points [-]

The tip is implicit.

"Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels."


That one makes the same or similar claim, but explicitly. Do you get it now?

Comment author: WalterL 13 February 2016 01:44:41AM 0 points [-]

That's a great quote!

Comment author: lisper 13 February 2016 01:24:07AM 1 point [-]

The blindness metaphor presents spiritual sensitivity as an ability that rationalists lack.

That is exactly the hypothesis I'm advancing. I'm sorry if you find it offensive.

Your definition of "spiritual" is still not fully detailed here

That's because spirituality is a subjective sensation, a quale. Those are notoriously difficult to define with precision.

does it contradict the proposition "spiritual" ∈ "supernatural"?

Spiritual experience is no more supernatural that any other subjective experience. But it can feel that way because of the manner in which it is induced.

Comment author: solipsist 12 February 2016 08:48:58PM 1 point [-]

Eh, don't take it personally. I'm guessing commenters are implicitly taking the title question as a challenge and are pouncing to poke holes in your argument. I thought your essay was well written and thought provoking. Keep posting!

Comment author: polymathwannabe 12 February 2016 08:03:27PM 0 points [-]


The blindness metaphor presents spiritual sensitivity as an ability that rationalists lack.

Your definition of "spiritual" is still not fully detailed here, but does it contradict the proposition "spiritual" ∈ "supernatural"?

Comment author: TheAltar 12 February 2016 06:15:05PM *  1 point [-]

There are wide variations between the different Christian denominations/groups in terms of spiritual experiences. This includes their occurrence at all and how commonly they occur. Roman Catholics, more vanilla flavored groups (Baptists&Lutherans?), and the charismatic and pentecostal groups have massive variations on this that I've witnessed first hand.

I'm confident that there are Christian groups who have zero or next to zero spiritual experiences ever while there are also groups like the charismatic church within 5 km of my house where everyone in the entire church exhibits glossolalia and believes they are being gifted special fruits/powers via direct spirit possession by the holy spirit/ghost every single Sunday. That church has at least 300 members and is not an uncommon denomination in my area either. (And yes, watching a massive room full of >300 people stand around convulsing and making weird nonsense noises while they believe they're being taken over by a non-human entity is about as disturbing as it sounds.)

The fact that people have stronger spiritual experiences at summer camps doesn't surprise me based on what I've seen. The stuff that happened at a related church's summer camp that I witnessed was even stranger and more discomforting that what I wrote above.

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