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Comment author: Eugine_Nier 25 March 2014 03:47:09AM 1 point [-]

Counterexample: most Buddhists.

Look at what warfare was like in China or Japan before major Western influences (not that is was much better after Western influences).

Comment author: Chrysophylax 27 March 2014 01:56:45AM -2 points [-]

Look at what warfare was like in China or Japan before major Western influences (not that is was much better after Western influences).

Vastly inferior to, say, warfare as practiced by 14th-century England, I'm sure. I also point you towards the Rape of Nanking.

Compare that with any group besides "The West". They would do much worse things and not even bother angsting about it.

You are comparing modern westerners with historical Buddhists. Try considering contemporary Buddhists (the group it is blindingly obvious I was referring to, given that the discussion was about the present and whether contempary non-western groups all lack moral qualms about torture).

I observe that you are being defensive.

In response to Conversation Halters
Comment author: Kevin92 26 March 2014 11:27:37PM 0 points [-]

I notice I'm confused.

I literally don't know what it means to say "The definition of words are not arbitrary." I suspect either that I lack the background knowledge to understand this sentence, or ironically Eliezer and I may have a different definition of the word arbitrary.

Furthermore, I don't know what the implications are of what he's trying to say. Is he saying that language is not a system of symbols? Is he saying that every word has a "correct" definition?

Comment author: Chrysophylax 27 March 2014 12:48:26AM 0 points [-]

Read the linked post. The main reasons we can't define words however we like are because that leads to not cutting reality at the joints and because humans are bad at avoiding hidden inferences. Not being a biologist, I can't assign an ideal definition to "duck", but I do know that calling lobsters ducks is clearly unhelpful to reasoning. For a more realistic example, note the way Reactionaries (Michael Anissimov, Mencius Moldbug and such) use "demotist" to associate things that are clearly not similar.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 27 March 2014 12:21:46AM 1 point [-]

Views about black people in the Islamic Golden Age were not the cause of views about black people in the nations participating in the transatlantic slave trade;

I never said they were. It's possible that both views had a common cause, e.g., blacks actually being less intelligent.

Comment author: Chrysophylax 27 March 2014 12:44:30AM -1 points [-]

Firstly, that explanation has a very low probability of being true. Even if we assume that important systematic differences in IQ existed for the relevant period, we are making a very strong claim when we say that slavery is a direct result of lower IQ. As you yourself point out, Arabs also historically enslaved Europeans; one might also observe that the Vikings did an awful lot of enslaving. Should we therefore conclude that the Nordic peoples are more intelligent than the Slavs and Anglo-Saxons?

Secondly, your objection now reduces to "other people in history were predjudiced against blacks, so modern prejudice is probably not a consequence of slavery". Obviously it reduces the probability, but by a very small amount. Other people have also been angry with Bob; nevertheless, it remains extremely probable that I am angry because he just punched me.

Are you seriously trying to argue that the prejudice against blacks in Europe and the USA is not a consequence of the slave trade?

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 25 March 2014 02:46:54AM *  2 points [-]

One might also point out that thinking black people are inferior is a meme that arose from the slave trade in Christian semi-democracies.

Read Arabian Nights, blacks are portrayed pretty negatively there as well.

Comment author: Chrysophylax 27 March 2014 12:08:04AM 1 point [-]

I've read it. Views about black people in the Islamic Golden Age were not the cause of views about black people in the nations participating in the transatlantic slave trade; a quick check of Wikipedia confirms that slavery as a formal institution had to redevelop in the English colonies, as chattel slavery had virtually disappeared after the Norman Conquest and villeinage was largely gone by the beginning of the 17th century. One might as well argue that the ethic of recipricocity in modern Europe owes its origin to Confucian ren.

Comment author: gjm 24 March 2014 04:05:02PM 2 points [-]

Remember that the change in karma-for-the-month is the sum of two things: changes now and changes a month ago. So it can jump down even when nothing interesting just happened, if you got a bunch of upvotes 30 days ago.

Comment author: Chrysophylax 24 March 2014 07:01:51PM -2 points [-]

But the big jump was in karma, not karma-for-the-month. My karma-for-the-month went down by two and my karma went down by 25. I'm now on {20, 5}, which is inconsistent with the {12, -2} and {16, 2} from earlier today.

Comment author: gjm 24 March 2014 10:46:03AM *  0 points [-]

Most likely: Someone has taken exception to something you wrote and decided to go back and downvote a load of your old comments. It's a thing that happens. Victims complain about it from time to time. Eliezer says he's asked someone to look at the LW database for evidence of mass-downvoting but they haven't found anything useful; make of that what you will.

There are some grounds for thinking that people who make comments supporting (in rough terms) feminist views, and more generally but also more weakly "non-Reactionary" views, are particularly likely to attract the attention of mass-downvoters. (One might respond to this by avoiding such comments, or by defiantly making more of them.)

Less likely but not impossible: Someone has disliked something you wrote, gone back through your comment history, independently assessed the quality of each comment, and happens to have found ~25 comments that they think deserved downvoting on their own (de)merits.

[EDITED to add: Hello, downvoters! If you think something is bad about the above, please do let me know what. Otherwise, my working hypothesis is that the downvotes on this comment come from mass-downvoters who don't like being talked about. and I'll adopt my usual heuristic of responding to what look like mass-downvotes by posting more.]

Comment author: Chrysophylax 24 March 2014 03:43:11PM *  0 points [-]

Thank you. I'm still confused, though, because I started out at 0 karma for the month, making the changes in the numbers non-equal. I'm now on {16, 2}, which is consistent with {12,-2}, though.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 18 March 2014 02:34:20AM -1 points [-]

Compare that with any group besides "The West". They would do much worse things and not even bother angsting about it.

Comment author: Chrysophylax 24 March 2014 10:10:14AM -1 points [-]

Counterexample: most Buddhists.

Your enemies (and, you know, the rest of humanity) are not innately evil: there are very few people who will willingly torture people. There are quite a lot of people who will torture horrible mockeries of humanity / the Enemy, and an awful lot of people who will torture people because someone in authority told them to, but very few people who feel comfortable with torturing things they consider people. The Chinese governement does some pretty vile things; I nevertheless doubt that every Party bureaucrat would be happy to be involved in them.

Comment author: Jayson_Virissimo 24 March 2014 01:03:12AM 7 points [-]

...I think it is reasonable to say that opposition to homosexuality would not have been the default stance of the cultures of or derived from Europe if not for Christianity being the dominant religion in previous years. While the Communists rejected religion, they did not fully update on this rejection, but rather continued in many of the beliefs that religion had caused to be part of their culture.

Blaming lingering Christian memes for the illegality of gay marriage doesn't seem right to me, because almost all countries that currently allow it are predominantly Christian or Post-Christian. Are there any countries that allow gay marriage that don't have a longish history of Christianity?

Comment author: Chrysophylax 24 March 2014 09:43:29AM 7 points [-]

Are there any countries that allow gay marriage that don't have a longish history of Christianity?

No. There are 17 countries that allow it and 2 that allow it in some jurisdictions. A list may be found here: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/19/gay-marriage-around-the-world-2013/

There have been plenty of cultures where homosexuality was accepted; classical Greece and Rome, for example. Cultures where marriage is predominantly a governmental matter rather than a religious one are all, as far as I am aware, heavily influenced by the cultures of western Europe. One might also observe that all of these countries are industrial or post-industrial, and have large populations of young people with vastly more economic and sexual freedom than occured before the middle of the 20th century. One might also observe that China, Japan and South Korea seem to be the only countries at this level of economic development that were not culturally dominated by colonial states.

The fact that a history of Christianity is positively correlated with approval for gay marriage does not imply that Christian memes directly influence stances on homosexuality. Christianity spread around the world alongside other memes (such as democracy and case law). Those countries where European colonies were culturally dominant also received the industrial revolution and the immense increases in personal rights that came as a consequence of the increased economic and political power of the working class. One might also point out that thinking black people are inferior is a meme that arose from the slave trade in Christian semi-democracies.

There seems to be abundant evidence that the Abrahamic religions have strongly influenced societal views worldwide with regard to sexual morals; indeed, I cannot imagine a remotely plausible argument for this being untrue. I also wish to observe that Eastern Orthodox Christianity survived the USSR and still affects cultural values in Russia; it seems highly improbable that it did not influence Russian culture in the 1930s.

Comment author: Chrysophylax 24 March 2014 08:49:49AM *  1 point [-]

Yet another karma query: yesterday my karma was 37. Today my karma is 12 and I am at -2 karma for the last 30 days. What's going on here?

Comment author: Jayson_Virissimo 19 March 2014 06:36:29AM *  8 points [-]

Read what Freud (who was an atheist) had to say about homosexuality for starters.

You needn't go as far back as Freud. Hell, read what Ayn Rand had to say about homosexuality (and she thought that God existing was metaphysically impossible and religion was the "negation of reason").

Comment author: Chrysophylax 24 March 2014 12:08:14AM 2 points [-]

I agree with the statements of fact but not with the inference drawn from them. While Jiro's argument is poorly expressed, I think it is reasonable to say that opposition to homosexuality would not have been the default stance of the cultures of or derived from Europe if not for Christianity being the dominant religion in previous years. While the Communists rejected religion, they did not fully update on this rejection, but rather continued in many of the beliefs that religion had caused to be part of their culture.

I am not sure that "the atheists actually thought gay marriage was a sane idea but didn't say so for fear of how they'd look to their religious neighbors" was Jiro's position, but I think that it is a straw man.

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