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Comment author: mtraven 20 February 2007 04:35:40PM 18 points [-]

While trying to avoid bitter partisan sniping is probably a good thing, I think the goal of avoiding politics is naive. Everyone is enmeshed in politics, like it or not. To deny politics is a form of political ideology itself. There seems to be a strong libertarian bias to this crowd, for instance. Libertarians seek to replace politics with markets, but that is in itself a political goal.

Another sad truth: even if we disavow responsibility for the actions of our political leaders, others will hold us responsible for them, given that we are a democracy and all. See here for some thoughts on how we are forced into group identification whether we like it or not.

Politics is not optional and if you are interested in overcoming bias I suggest that it's better to acknowledge that fact than bury it.

Comment author: Alex_O 09 May 2015 12:41:02PM 2 points [-]

Denying politics is also a mode of oppression. I had a teacher calling women in my class "females" which is very insulting in French as it only ever applies to animals, not peoples. When one of them complained, he dismissed her by saying it was not the place for her feminist militantism.

Another note on Martin Luther King : he said several times that the greatest enemies of black liberation were not the KKK but those (mosty middle class, benefiting indirectly from racism) who saw the problem but advocated innaction because revendication wasn't polite or there was better problems to adress.

Comment author: Alex_O 09 May 2015 12:27:45PM 0 points [-]

I do believe this post uses a limited definition of politics, although quite legitimately. Most people tend to essentialize polititics, for example, a policy will be considered left/right wing because of its proponents rather than its content. However, discussing the internal rationality of a politico-philosophical system is interesting, but it implies a redefinition of politics as a cost-benefits analysis of the use of a particular model of reality for the purpose of construction of laws.

In such case, the "What about the Nazis" argument is no longer a problem, because you can prove that the politico-philosophical system of national socialism has some benefits (nazi Germany became a huge economical power) for a huge cost (genocide, war, nationalism, etc...).

Discussing a particular subject is therefore a problem, but discussing the models is interesting in a rational debate.

This assumes that a model of reality is necessary to build laws. I permit myself this assumption because a) laws are part of the system called the Law b) the Law cannot deal in specifics (there cannot be a law directed to a specific individual, or a list of specific individuals) c) therefore the Law is a model of the society as it should be. d) such a model cannot be constructed without knowledge of how society is, and why, and how it goes from one state to another. e) This knowledge itself must be a model to be usable.

In response to comment by Algon on Why capitalism?
Comment author: Lumifer 04 May 2015 03:02:01PM 2 points [-]

You don't think the experience of Marxist countries had something to do with that? X-/

In response to comment by Lumifer on Why capitalism?
Comment author: Alex_O 09 May 2015 11:11:28AM -1 points [-]

Some socialist 'countries' were successful though, on an economical point of view. Anarchists often refer to revolutionary Spain and the CNT. Although they were ultimately destroyed in war by the alliance of fashism and the moderate left, the economical development boomed during the short Republic life. Even the USSR, which is not usually considered socialist in anarchist circles (see first comment) went from an economy based on agriculture to a huge industrial power in less than 50 years.

Comment author: Sable 26 April 2015 01:35:50AM 5 points [-]

I was reading your comment, and when I thought about always betting a dollar, my brain went, "That's a good idea!"

So I asked my brain, "What memory are you accessing that makes you think that's a good idea?"

And my brain replied, "Remember that CFAR reading list you're going through? Yeah, that one."

So I went to my bookshelf, got out Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational, and started paging through it.

Professor Ariely had several insights that helped me understand why actually using money seemed like such a good idea:

  1. Interacting within market norms makes you do a cost-benefit analysis. Professor Ariely discusses the difference between social norms and market norms in chapter 4. Social norms govern interactions that don't involve money (favors for a friend), and market norms govern interactions that do (costs and benefits). The professor did an experiment in which he had people drag circles into a square on a computer screen (judging their productivity by how many times they did this in a set period of time). He gave one group of such participants an explicitly stated "50-cent snickers bar" and the other a "five-dollar box of Godiva chocolates." As it turns out, the results were identical to a previous experiment in which the same amounts of direct cash were used. Professor Ariely concludes, "These results show that for market norms to emerge, it is sufficient to mention money." In other words, Professor Ariely's research supports your first (4.) - "A dollar feels more important than it actually is..." This is the case because as soon as money enters the picture, so do market norms.

  2. Money makes us honest. In chapter 14, aptly titled "Why Dealing With Cash Makes Us More Honest," Professor Ariely explains an experiment he conducted in the MIT cafeteria. Students were given a sheet of 20 math problems to solve in five minutes. The control group was to have their solutions checked, and then were given 50 cents per correct answer. A second group was instructed to tear their paper apart, and then tell the experimenter how many questions they got correct (allowing them to cheat). They were then paid 50 cents for every correct answer they claimed. Lastly, a third group was allowed to cheat similarly to the second group, except that when they gave one experimenter their score, they were given tokens, which were traded in immediately thereafter for cash through a second experimenter. The results: A) The control group solved an average of 3.5 questions correctly. B) The second group, who cheated for cash, claimed an average of 6.2 correct solutions. C) The third group, who cheated for tokens, claimed an average of 9.4 correct solutions. Simply put, when actual, physical money was removed from the subjects' thought process by a token and a few seconds, the amount of cheating more than doubled, from 2.7 to 5.9.

In short, using money to back a prediction a) forces us to think analytically, and b) keeps us honest.

Thank you for the idea. Now I just need to find an ATM to get some ones...

Comment author: Alex_O 08 May 2015 08:23:58AM 3 points [-]

This experiment does not prove that money keeps people more honest than absence of money, but more honest than token exchangeable for money. If a control group was allowed to cheat without receiving money at all they might (my prediction and I would bet a dollar on it if I didn't use Euros) cheat even less. Then, the hypothesis "money keeps us honest" would be disproved.