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Bound_up comments on The dark arts: Examples from the Harris-Adams conversation - Less Wrong Discussion

15 Post author: Stabilizer 20 July 2017 11:42PM

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Comment author: James_Miller 21 July 2017 01:52:25AM *  11 points [-]

(1a) Adams never claims that Trump is a good person, and consequently this wasn't a point of disagreement between him and Harris and thus not relevant to their conversation.

(1b) Yes, that's my opinion as well. What's relevant is what we should do about climate change, and as Adams pointed out even if all the climate change stuff is true, the economics doesn't necessarily support taking immediate action.

(2) This is more two conditions have to be true than Motte and Bailey. It's like a legal argument that my client didn't do X, but even if he did do X it wouldn't have been a crime.

(3) Yes, but Adams was honest about this. I think Adams takes a consequentialist view of morality and so, for example, thinks it would be OK for Trump to lie if it helped our economy or harm ISIS. Adams wants his audience to understand the worldview of a master persuader, and from this worldview facts are often not relevant. Also, it's too simple to say that Trump lies when Trump says something that Trump knows is false, but which Trump also knows that his audience knows is false. This is more emotional signaling.

(4) Disagree. I love Sam Harris's podcasts but I think Harris has a case of Trump derange syndrome, and it was fantastic of Adams to point this out. Getting Harris to make Hitler / exorcist comparisons was very telling. Rationalist should point out when they think others are suffering from confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance.

(5a) Yes Adams makes an unfalseafiable claim, but a claim that seems theoretical reasonable.

(5b) Since Trump has made no apparent effort to lock Hillary up, this seems right. But I admit Trump's pre-election call to lock Hillary up greatly troubled me.

(5c) Trump has sacrificed a lot of time, and knowingly accepted a lot of insults to become president and at age in which he seems unlikely to be able to personally benefit much from having been president. Lots of Americans really do think that Trump is saving American civilization, and it seems reasonable that Trump is one of those people.

(6a) It's know known that the 17 agency figure was an error. I think even the NYT has admitted this.

(6b) Yes, and this seems relevant.

"He is an ethical and epistemological relativist: he does not seem to believe in truth or in morality."

Adams doesn't think that true and morality play much of a role in political persuasion. Adams thinks that most people greatly overestimate how much their own personal opinions are influenced by truth and morality. Adams is trying to correct this massive flaw in human nature by giving his readers/viewers/listeners some of the secrets of master persuaders.

This is an example of Adams using the dark arts.

It might have worked.

Comment author: Bound_up 11 August 2017 05:55:30PM 1 point [-]

The dialogue about Trump on climate change is a perfect example of how most people think in opposition to how careful, abstract nerdy-types think.

To a nerd, it's a crucial distinction to say something like while we may not, based on economic models, want to do anything about it, it is an entirely separate question whether or not global warming is actually occurring.

A great many people will not make that "fine" distinction. All they can hear is "yay my tribe" and "boo my tribe." If that's all they can understand, then is it really a lie to say something that you know will be interpreted as "yay you guys?"

I would say it's a lie to say something you know the other person will misinterpret in a way that leads them to a wrong conclusion, even if the way you would interpret it is true. The counterpart is that it's not a lie to say something that you know will be interpreted an acceptably true way ("yay you guys" is not true or false per se) even if the way you would interpret it is false.

Scott Adams understands the folly of trying to make fine distinctions about political issues when talking to most people, so he, just like them, interprets Trump's statement as a partisan rallying cry, and excuses it on the basis of consequentialism (he seems to think it's okay not to do anything about global warming). As far as he and they are concerned, there's nothing about that statement that CAN be "true" or "false;" it has all the informational density of a hearty "yay!"

Comment author: James_Miller 12 August 2017 05:46:46AM 0 points [-]

Agreed.