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Comment author: Emile 07 April 2014 07:48:52PM 5 points [-]

As others have said, you should probably rewrite this post if you want to engage in constructive discussion; a few suggestions:

  • No point in talking about posting this in main, you'll probably get more views and comments in discussion anyway (non-promoted things in main tend to be ignored...)
  • You seem to be using "free will" differently than most people here, that would need work (either find a better term, or give an explanation about how your use is different)
  • Spell Eliezer's name correctly
  • What's with the big spaces at the end?

Also, I don't identify as a militant atheist and am quite sympathetic to some religious views, and I don't think I'm far outside the norm here.

Comment author: Desrtopa 10 April 2014 03:27:58AM 2 points [-]

Spell Eliezer's name correctly

I've often been baffled by how many people persist in the use of alternate spellings of his name when the correct, or at least, given spelling of his name is usually visible for perusal in those very discussions.

It seems like a very weird, petty form of disrespect.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 07 April 2014 04:37:09AM 1 point [-]

I would regard this as a highly extraordinary claim demanding commensurately extraordinary evidence, and I would caution that this is a case which seems very prone to inviting the No True Scotsman fallacy. First off, how would you determine whether an individual listens to their heart or not, and second, how do you know that individuals who listen to their hearts don't engage in such antisocial behaviors?

There are people who listen to their heads who go on killing sprees. I believe Christian's claims is that listening to one's heart is either uncorrelated or negatively correlated with going on killing sprees.

Comment author: Desrtopa 07 April 2014 04:51:07AM 1 point [-]

I believe Christian's claims is that listening to one's heart is either uncorrelated or negatively correlated with going on killing sprees.

I don't believe this is the case; I think the continuation of this discussion in other comments has made it pretty clear that he's arguing that, while listening to their hearts, people do not go on killing sprees at all.

Comment author: ChristianKl 06 April 2014 01:52:02PM 1 point [-]

First off, how would you determine whether an individual listens to their heart or not,

At the moment by observing and checking whether specific qualia are there. If I really wanted to make the proof in numbers, that would require that I systematically calibrate my own perception first and determine sensitivity and specificity of my perception of other people.

I'm also still a person who's fairly intellectual. There are people with better perception than myself and getting them to do the assessing might be better.

Having a way to get that data via a more automated process that doesn't need a perceptive human would also be nice. At the moment I however have no clear idea about how to go about measuring or the necessary financial resources to finance that kind of research.

how do you know that individuals who listen to their hearts don't engage in such antisocial behaviors?

A mix of more theoretical thinking and practical observation of the behavior of people with whom I'm interacting changes when the qualia I'm perceiving suggests that the locus of their attention within their body changes.

I would regard this as a highly extraordinary claim demanding commensurately extraordinary evidence,

I understand that's an advanced claim. At the moment I'm more concerned with making clear what the claim is than proving it.

If I say that Harry is not going to kill people if he listens to Hufflepuff but might kill if he listens to Slytherin, would that be a strange claim for you? If I say people who always listen to Hufflepuff don't go on killing sprees would that seem strange to you? Most people you know don't have the ability to mentally commit to 100% listen to Hufflepuff in every decision that they make in their lifes.

If I remember right Eliezer uses those different persona because it's popular in systematic therapy to do so and someone he knows taught him that thinking that way can be useful. Those persona have a different quality than organs that can be perceived kinesthetically but they are not that different.

Lastly it's useful to keep in mind what extraordinary claim needing extraordinary evidence can lead to. If you take it too far it shuts down people from saying what they honestly believe and instead let's them argue beliefs that they don't fully stand behind.

We all have many beliefs that come out of personal experience and not from reading papers. There are areas where the personal experiences differs massively. In those cases we don't get certainity about what's true when someone else tells us about how he thinks the world works. Simply understanding the models of other people is still be useful because then you might use that model sometime in the future when it explains something you see better than your other mental models.

Comment author: Desrtopa 06 April 2014 03:28:55PM 2 points [-]

If I say that Harry is not going to kill people if he listens to Hufflepuff but might kill if he listens to Slytherin, would that be a strange claim for you? If I say people who always listen to Hufflepuff don't go on killing sprees would that seem strange to you?

No and yes respectively.

Hufflepuff isn't a natural category, Harry!Hufflepuff is an abstraction based on Harry filtering his personality through certain criteria and impulses, such as what he conceives of as loyalty and compassion. Do I think that Harry, reasoning through his conception of loyalty and compassion, would go on a killing spree? Unlikely. Do I think that there are people who, reasoning through their conceptions of loyalty and compassion, would go on killing sprees? Absolutely.

A neurological fact that may be of some relevance here. Oxytocin, the chemical associated with triggering feelings of love and affection, has also been found to trigger increases in xenophobia and ingroup/outgroup bias.

Feelings of love and loyalty are not anathema to hate and violence. Rather, they often go hand in hand; the same feelings that unite you with a group can also be those which make you feel you're united against something else.

Lastly it's useful to keep in mind what extraordinary claim needing extraordinary evidence can lead to. If you take it too far it shuts down people from saying what they honestly believe and instead let's them argue beliefs that they don't fully stand behind.

How so? I don't take any issue with your stating your beliefs and arguing in their favor. As is, I think that they're misguided, but that's because I think the weight of evidence is not in their favor. If you convinced me it were, I would change my mind. I think it would be far more useful for you to defend your belief with the best evidence you think favors it than to simply assert your belief.

Comment author: ChristianKl 02 April 2014 05:39:41PM 1 point [-]

Could you make clearer what you mean by beliefs, or what it means to "believe" in beliefs? As-is, the questions seem too vague to adequately answer.

In Homer's time there was no concept of beliefs. In this discussion there the notion that people who listen to their hearts somehow develop the wrong beliefs and that's bad.

So whatever Penn Jillette means when he says "believe". In case you think that's no coherent concept, that would also be an answer that I would accept.

I recognize the responses from various parts of my body when I think, but that doesn't mean that other parts of my body are doing the thinking for me, or that imagining they are would result in my making better decisions.

I'm not arguing better or worse. I'm arguing different. People who listen to their hearts don't go on killing sprees. They won't push fat men of bridges. If you think that not enough fat men are pushed of bridges than you might argue against "listening to your heart" but there a very different discussion.

If I'm having this discussion on LW I'm mostly in my head. That's completely appropriate. If I would be mainly in my head while dancing Salsa, that would lead to a lot of bad decisions during Salsa dancing. Beyond bad decisions, if the girl with whom I'm dancing is perceptive it will feel inapproriate for her.

Comment author: Desrtopa 06 April 2014 04:43:18AM *  0 points [-]

So whatever Penn Jillette means when he says "believe". In case you think that's no coherent concept, that would also be an answer that I would accept.

If we're talking about Penn Jillete's conception of "beliefs", then I would say that he probably has in mind pieces of information that our minds can represent and reason about abstractly, although this is of course somewhat speculative as I cannot speak for Penn Jillette. I would say that this probably doesn't apply to the other species you named, but may apply to some other existing species, and probably some of our ancestors in the Homo genus.

I'm not arguing better or worse. I'm arguing different. People who listen to their hearts don't go on killing sprees.

I would regard this as a highly extraordinary claim demanding commensurately extraordinary evidence, and I would caution that this is a case which seems very prone to inviting the No True Scotsman fallacy. First off, how would you determine whether an individual listens to their heart or not, and second, how do you know that individuals who listen to their hearts don't engage in such antisocial behaviors?

Comment author: ChristianKl 02 April 2014 04:40:52PM 2 points [-]

the "heart" answers are generated in the brain as much as any of the other ones.

There are plenty of neurons outside the brain, so I don't know whether that's true. Regardles, the motor cortex has somewhere a representation of the hard that"s "in the brain". Given that panthom limbs can hurt it's probably somewhere in the motor cortex with feedback channels to the actually body location.

Why should they have any such perception?

That's a complicated question.

I would preface it by saying that language is evolutionary a recent invention. We are not evolved for that purpose. It's a byproduct. An accident more than a planned thing. A dog doesn't need to have a verbalized understanding of a situation to decide whether to do A or B.

It devels into the nature of what emotions are. In academia you have plenty of people who are in a practical sense blind when it comes to perceiving what happens in their body. People who declared blindness as virtue.

If a man get's an erection and his attention goes to that part of his body, it's evolutionary useful for the men to do things lead to having sex.

If the same man has an empty stomach and the attention goes to perceiving the feeling of an empty stomach, that in turn leads to different actions.

Somewhere along those lines it made "sense" for evolution to develop a system of emotions where emotions are "located" somewhere in the body. Reuse of already existing neural patterns might also play a huge role. Evolution frequently works by reusing parts that already exist and were build for other purposes.

Years ago in an effort to understand the brain I brought a book called Introducing the Mind and Brain by Angus Gallatly who's a professsor of Cogntive Psychology.

At the beginning when he recaps the history of the mind he writes:

Homer's vocabulary does not include mental terms such as "think", "decide", "believe", "doubt" or "desire". The characters in the stories do not decide to do anything. They have no free will.

Where we would refer to thinking or pondering, Homer"s people refer to speaking to or hearing from their own organs: "I told my heart", or "my heart told me". Feelings and emotions are also described in this half-strange, half-familiar manner. Feelings are always located in some part of the body, often the midriff. A sharp intake of breath, the palpitating of the heart, or the uttering of cries is a feeling. A feeling is not some inner thing separate from its bodily manifestation.

At the time I first read those words, I also agreed with the strangeness of the idea. Now years later I'm touch with my body well enough to completely understand why it makes sense to speak that way. I'm not anymore blind. Even on a bad day I can tell apart midriff/stomach, heart and head. I also know people with better kinesthetic perception than myself.

When it comes to return hard questions, why do you think that human have beliefs? The concept doesn't seem straightforward enough that it was around in Homers days. Do you think dogs have them? Doves? Ants? Caenorhabditis elegans?

Bonus question, when do you think that humans started "believing" in beliefs?

Comment author: Desrtopa 02 April 2014 05:00:54PM 1 point [-]

At the time I first read those words, I also agreed with the strangeness of the idea. Now years later I'm touch with my body well enough to completely understand why it makes sense to speak that way. I'm not anymore blind. Even on a bad day I can tell apart midriff/stomach, heart and head. I also know people with better kinesthetic perception than myself.

I would say that this is probably a result of different emotions being associated with certain physiological responses. The body reacts to what's going on in the brain, and the brain gets further feedback from that.

I recognize the responses from various parts of my body when I think, but that doesn't mean that other parts of my body are doing the thinking for me, or that imagining they are would result in my making better decisions.

When it comes to return hard questions, why do you think that human have beliefs? The concept doesn't seem straightforward enough that it was around in Homers days. Do you think dogs have them? Doves? Ants? Caenorhabditis elegans?

Bonus question, when do you think that humans started "believing" in beliefs?

Could you make clearer what you mean by beliefs, or what it means to "believe" in beliefs? As-is, the questions seem too vague to adequately answer.

Comment author: ChristianKl 01 April 2014 10:03:23PM -2 points [-]

Listening to your heart just means listening to your innermost desires.

Sexual lust would be a desire that not felt in the heart but elsewhere.

The heart is a specific place in the body. Recently a woman in my meditation group that that she got a perception for the part of her body behind her heart and that part gives different answer and she now experiments with following those answers.

That a very high level of self perception that most people who speak about listening to their heart don't have. Most people are a bit more vague about what part in their body they are listening to.

There a reason why people lay their hand on the heart when making an oath and they don't have it on their heads or their belly. It does something on a physiological level.

I've never heard anyone use the idiom "listen to your heart" to mean to practice empathy.

People rather use phrases like having a heartfelt connection or connecting with someone's heart. To do that you usually need a connection to your own heart.

Comment author: Desrtopa 02 April 2014 02:28:50PM 2 points [-]

The heart is a specific place in the body. Recently a woman in my meditation group that that she got a perception for the part of her body behind her heart and that part gives different answer and she now experiments with following those answers.

That a very high level of self perception that most people who speak about listening to their heart don't have. Most people are a bit more vague about what part in their body they are listening to.

Why should they have any such perception? The literal heart doesn't provide any answers whatsoever, the "heart" answers are generated in the brain as much as any of the other ones.

Comment author: ChristianKl 02 April 2014 11:20:59AM 1 point [-]

I'd have to disagree here; I think that "faith" is a useful reference class that pretty effectively cleaves reality at the joints, which does in fact lump together the epistemologies Penn Jilette is objecting to.

People who follow the moral code of the Bible versus peopel that don't is also a pretty clear criteria that separates some epistemologies from others.

The fact that some communities of people who have norms which promote taking beliefs on faith do not tend to engage in acts of violence, while some such communities do, does not mean that their epistemologies are particularly distinct.

People who uses a pendulum to make decisions as a very different epistemology than someone who thinks about what the authorities in his particular church want him to do and acts accordingly.

"faith-based reasoning is unreliable enough that it can justify anything, in practice as well as principle, including acts of extreme violence."

The kind of people who win the world debating championship also haave no problem justying policies like genocide with rational arguments that win competive intellectual debates.

Justifying actions is something different than decision criteria.

Comment author: Desrtopa 02 April 2014 01:57:14PM *  1 point [-]

People who follow the moral code of the Bible versus peopel that don't is also a pretty clear criteria that separates some epistemologies from others.

Yes, but then you can go a step down from there, and ask "why do you believe in the contents of the bible?" For some individuals, this will actually be a question of evidence; they are prepared to reason about the evidence for and against the truth of the biblical narrative, and reject it given an adequate balance of evidence. They're generally more biased on the question than they realize, but they are at least convinced that they must have adequate evidence to justify their belief in the biblical narrative.

I have argued people out of their religious belief before (and not just Christianity,) but never someone who thought that it was correct to take factual beliefs that feel right "on faith" without first convincing them that this is incorrect as a general rule, not simply in the specific case of religion. This is an epistemic underpinning which unites people from different religions, whatever tenets or holy books they might ascribe to. I've also argued the same point with people who were not religious; it's not simply a quality of any particular religion, it's one of the most common memetic defenses in the human arsenal.

Comment author: Mestroyer 01 April 2014 08:20:23PM 15 points [-]

This quote seems like it's lumping every process for arriving at beliefs besides reason into one. "If you don't follow the process I understand and is guaranteed not to produce beliefs like that, then I can't guarantee you won't produce beliefs like that!" But there are many such processes besides reason, that could be going on in their "hearts" to produce their beliefs. Because they are all opaque and non-negotiable and not this particular one you trust not to make people murder Sharon Tate, does not mean that they all have the same probability of producing plane-flying-into-building beliefs.

Consider the following made-up quote: "when you say you believe something is acceptable for some reason other than the Bible said so, you have completely justified Stalin's planned famines. You have justified Pol Pot. If it's acceptable for for you, why isn't it acceptable for them? Why are you different? If you say 'I believe that gays should not be stoned to death and the Bible doesn't support me but I believe it in my heart', then it's perfectly okay to believe in your heart that dissidents should be sent to be worked to death in Siberia. It's perfectly okay to believe because your secular morality says so that all the intellectuals in your country need to be killed."

I would respond to it: "Stop lumping all moralities into two classes, your morality, and all others. One of these lumps has lots of variation in it, and sub-lumps which need to be distinguished, because most of them do not actually condone gulags"

And likewise I respond to Penn Jilette's quote: "Stop lumping all epistemologies into two classes, yours, and the one where people draw beliefs from their 'hearts'. One of these lumps has lots of variation in it, and sub-lumps which need to be distinguished, because most of them do not actually result in beliefs that drive them to fly planes into buildings."

The wishful-thinking new-age "all powerful force of love" faith epistemology is actually pretty safe in terms of not driving people to violence who wouldn't already be inclined to it. That belief wouldn't make them feel good. Though of course, faith plus ancient texts which condone violence can be more dangerous, though as we know empirically, for some reason, people driven to violence by their religions are rare these days, even coming from religions like that.

Comment author: Desrtopa 01 April 2014 09:41:23PM 0 points [-]

I'd have to disagree here; I think that "faith" is a useful reference class that pretty effectively cleaves reality at the joints, which does in fact lump together the epistemologies Penn Jilette is objecting to.

The fact that some communities of people who have norms which promote taking beliefs on faith do not tend to engage in acts of violence, while some such communities do, does not mean that their epistemologies are particularly distinct. Their specific beliefs might be different, but one group will not have much basis to criticize the grounds of others' beliefs.

The flaw he's arguing here is not "faith-based reasoning sometimes drives people to commit acts of violence," but "faith-based reasoning is unreliable enough that it can justify anything, in practice as well as principle, including acts of extreme violence."

Comment author: raisin 01 April 2014 04:09:29PM 6 points [-]

This principle is particularly important in statistical meta-analysis: because if you have a bunch of methodologically poor studies, each with small sample size, and then subject them to meta-analysis, what can happen is that the systematic biases in each study — if they mostly point in the same direction — can reach statistical significance when the studies are pooled.

Does anyone know how often this happens in statistical meta-analysis?

Comment author: Desrtopa 01 April 2014 04:21:11PM 5 points [-]

As a percentage? No. But qualitatively speaking, "often."

The most recent book I read discusses this particularly with respect to medicine, where the problem is especially pronounced because a majority of studies are conducted or funded by an industry with a financial stake in the results, with considerable leeway to influence them even without committing formal violations of procedure. But even in fields where this is not the case, issues like non-publication of data (a large proportion of all studies conducted are not published, and those which are not published are much more likely to contain negative results) will tend to make the available literature statistically unrepresentative.

Comment author: somervta 01 April 2014 06:50:40AM 6 points [-]

I'm assuming this is an April Fools thing that was posted a little early?

Comment author: Desrtopa 01 April 2014 04:04:33PM 1 point [-]

Considering time zone differences, it might not have been early on his end.

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