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David_J._Balan comments on Politics is the Mind-Killer - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: David_J._Balan 19 February 2007 07:19:53PM 4 points [-]

There is no doubt that politics gets people fired up, which makes dispassionate reasoning about it hard. On the other hand, politics is important, which makes dispassionate reasoning about it important as well. There is nothing wrong with deciding that this particular blog will not focus on politics. But to the extent that we do want to talk about politics here, I don't think the trick of finding some neutral historical example to argue about is going to work. First, historical examples that are obscure enough not to arouse passions one way or the other are exactly those things that most people don't know much about. Second, it's usually pretty obvious which side in the "neutral" example corresponds to the arguer's preferred side in the contemporary example, so the arguer is likely to just adopt that position, and then claim to have derived it from first principles based on a neutral example. I agree that neutral exercises can have some usefulness as they might be helpful in uncovering subtle biases in people who are sincerely trying to avoid them, but it won't get rid of the flamers.