Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

RPMcMurphy comments on Politics is the Mind-Killer - Less Wrong

72 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 February 2007 09:23PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (228)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: RPMcMurphy 27 March 2015 08:46:43PM -2 points [-]

This is one of the objectively most wrong comments that's ever been written. A hell of a lot of people went to gas chambers, gulags, and death camps believing this sort of pure, undiluted bullshit (of the highly-dangerous-to-continuing-health variety). Just think about it. You wrote:

So it is with opposing viewpoints. Policy debates should not appear one-sided. If you do not understand how an intelligent, well-meaning person can have a position, and it's a position that lots of people actually hold, then you do not understand the position yet.

So, if you were defending Jews in 1930s Germany, by this "reasoning," you'd be wrong. If you were defending runaway slaves in 1850s America, same thing. If you are defending American prisoners in today's America, same thing.

Even a semi-literate reading of History shows us that the consensus is very often wrong, for reasons exposed scientifically by Milgram's famous "false electroshock" or "obedience to authority" experiment(s). To find out more about why and how the consensus has been wrong, you need to learn the first thing about the Enlightenment, and how it was different from the even more wrong medieval time periods. (For example, religion isn't a good source of authority, and resulted in over 800 years of "trial by ordeal" in England, among creatures whose neocortices were at least as developed as our own.)

...Unless the point you're making is that we've reached the pinnacle of democratic organization in our society. That's a claim I'd be happy to debate, seeing as to how in the North in 1850 there was no "voir dire" but there was such a thing in 1851, (and still is) and the Fugitive Slave Law was unenforceable for the first part of 1851, and became enforceable after voir dire was instated. Voir dire is still what has allowed prosecutors to enforce the laws that libertarians (such as Eliezer Yudkowsky) see as illegitimate, to this day. (He may or may not know that, but that's in fact the mechanism.)

Comment author: dxu 27 March 2015 09:36:23PM *  2 points [-]

I think you are seriously misinterpreting thomblake's comment.

So, if you were defending Jews in 1930s Germany, by this "reasoning," you'd be wrong. If you were defending runaway slaves in 1850s America, same thing. If you are defending American prisoners in today's America, same thing.

No, he'd be right. A position's popularity doesn't guarantee its correctness. That being said, it would be a mistake to claim he'd be obviously right; that just isn't the case, or else there wouldn't have been so many people arguing for the consensus position in the first place. If you are pro-abortion and say things like, "Anti-abortionists are stupid and mistaken and not worth listening to at all!" you aren't worth listening to, because odds are very likely you haven't taken the time to properly think about the anti-abortionists' position. Likewise if you are anti-abortion, and say things like, "Pro-abortionists are idiots; there's no way a well-meaning, intelligent person could be in favor of abortion!"

Even a semi-literate reading of History shows us that the consensus is very often wrong

Again, see above. The consensus may be very often wrong, but it cannot be obviously wrong. If a consensus position was obviously wrong, it wouldn't have become the consensus position in the first place. Arguments against the consensus position are perfectly fine as long as they are charitable and (reasonably) objective; arguments of the form "this is obviously stupid" are a major sign of mind-killing, and factually false.