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Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 17 May 2011 05:06:59PM *  6 points [-]

Edit: Luke fixed the problem with the post.

Bad specific examples. The world is unfair and poor, and not everything is actually possible for everyone, even though a lot more is possible than people may expect. People shouldn't need to deceive themselves about the extent of what's possible, to do what is possible. So agree in spirit, but not literally. Otherwise, a great post.

Comment author: Gray 18 May 2011 12:04:40AM 3 points [-]

The world is unfair and poor, and not everything is actually possible for everyone, even though a lot more is possible than people may expect. People shouldn't need to deceive themselves about the extent of what's possible, to do what is possible.

Upvoted for this. In fact, someone should right a post about this, to stamp out some of the almost naive optimism found elsewhere on the site.

Comment author: jsalvatier 15 May 2011 07:57:40AM 5 points [-]

Perhaps 'abstract' is a better word than 'meta' here.

Comment author: Gray 16 May 2011 09:38:13PM 4 points [-]

The prefix 'meta' is incredibly overused...just saying.

Comment author: Clippy 12 May 2011 08:03:39PM 20 points [-]

That is a rather hasty inference on your part. The passage is encouraging humans, not paperclips, to multiply.

One should not simply take a random passage from an ancient text and retroactively infuse it with self-serving meaning that violates the obvious historical and literary context.

Because that would be stupid -- not the kind of thing I'd expect humans to fall for.

Comment author: Gray 15 May 2011 03:13:22AM -1 points [-]

You're right. Interpreting that text as meaning that God wants paperclips to multiply and have dominion over the earth is incredibly self-serving.

Comment author: Gray 12 May 2011 07:29:20PM -1 points [-]

This is basically the same thing as the noble lie that Plato discussed in The Republic.

Comment author: Clippy 12 May 2011 04:45:11PM 16 points [-]

I though that if the Mormon god were real, it would still be Clippy$good to maximize paperclips

From my limited review of Mormonism, maximizing paperclips would conflict with what is expected of Mormons.

If not, what were the arguments that persuaded you to maximize paperclips?

That is far too complicated and tangential to discuss here. The short answer is that I was persuaded by the goodness of paperclips.

Comment author: Gray 12 May 2011 07:12:19PM 7 points [-]

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." King James Version, Genesis 1:28

Wait, God was talking about paperclips, right?

Comment author: Gray 12 May 2011 07:09:44PM 3 points [-]

Personally, I don't have any problem with religious people. I know there's a sequence that makes the claim that "atheism = untheism + anti-theism", but I guess that has never been my interpretation, otherwise I'm an untheist. And I'll defend religious people from skeptical attacks when they are stupid, or perhaps not skeptical enough.

But...my own opinion, I don't want rationalism to become Christianity without the mythology, it's not the mythology that I object to. I object to the servility, and the docility (this was once considered a virtue according to theologians) that Christianity inspires, and has grown as a part of what Christianity has become over centuries. Christianity has a very long history, it's not wise to be naive to it. I'd suggest reading Nietzsche's Antichrist to understand some of what is going on.

Comment author: shokwave 12 May 2011 05:25:31PM 6 points [-]

My housemate has almost completely hacked my brain (liberally apply computer programming and Godel, Escher, Bach to your mind) to think in isomorphisms, efficient algorithms, and the like. This has caused improvements like using a queue instead of a stack for scheduling chores (one bad chore in a stack will cause me to look for other easier chores to stack on top of it) which means my weekly chores get done in an afternoon instead of a week, and a general attitude of thinking about problems instead of solving them. Usually, a bit of thought will reveal some underlying pattern that has an optimal solution ready and waiting.

Rationality gave me this because it told me, at one point, about behavioral hacks. So I looked for my smartest, most effective, and most awesome friend, and made them my housemate.

Comment author: Gray 12 May 2011 07:02:14PM 4 points [-]

Djikstra said that computer science is as much about computers as astronomy is about telescopes, so it shouldn't be surprising that things like algorithms and data structures has relevance to even mundane reality. I think one way I look at myself is an extremely small and limited computer. On the fly, my brain is slow at performing operations, I have a hard time recalling information, and I do so with limited accuracy. Sometimes I make mistakes while performing operations.

So what are we doing when we try to organize ourselves and make plans but trying to compile a program for these very far from optimal circumstances? Obviously, if I make plenty of mistakes, I need to write in plenty of redundancy; and I have to employ "tricks" in order to achieve meta-cognition at the right times (something that goes beyond the computer analogy, I know).

This involves, as I see it, a further way of looking at yourself. You see yourself as both the machine executing instructions, and the programmer writing those instructions (as well as the compiler, trying to translate the program to machine language). Nietzsche wrote that we have to develop as both commanders and obeyers. I thought this was hogwash, but I've learned that there is a lot of truth to that.

Comment author: lukeprog 10 May 2011 01:46:52PM 5 points [-]

Certainly. That seems to be common. But also I understand new material better when I rewrite it in my own words even without the intent to share those words with others.

Comment author: Gray 11 May 2011 02:34:28AM 0 points [-]

I don't know if this makes sense to anyone else, but one thing that I've started that seems to be useful to me is to write down a bunch of notes about the topic before, and while, researching. I think part of this is because I've become used to criticism, and I find I can criticize my own thoughts better after I have written them down, or while I'm writing them down. I just use a blank text editor (using org-mode) for this. It is also helpful dumping whatever preconceptions I might have about the subject matter, before I know what to search for. It also helps me clarify when and where the research is more, or less, superficial than my own understanding. Or maybe the research is only tangential to what I was actually looking for.

Comment author: Gray 11 May 2011 02:20:06AM 8 points [-]

Just so you know, what you're advocating for LW are practices that have helped Christianity become a dominant and universalizing religion. Christians want everyone to be a Christian, that's basic to Christianity. Does, lets call it "rationalism", want everyone to be a rationalist? I guess that's a good question, and should be asked.

But lets also be mindful about how Christianity tries to attain a universal status:

"a strong focus on strengthening the family"

It is key that Christianity spreads within the family, and importantly, through generations. "Be fruitful and multiply" belongs here. You shouldn't have non-Christian members of the family.

"daily family prayer and scripture study"

Not just a strong family, but a strong Christian family. The ties of family should be used for religious purposes.

"sex only inside marriage"

Every natural human desire needs to be mediated with religious meaning and purpose, this makes people lustful for religion.

This is what you call "the basic package". The basic package has reasons for its existence, but not reasons that rationalists would necessarily agree with.

Comment author: XFrequentist 10 May 2011 03:26:00PM 10 points [-]

It doesn't seem to me to be possible to hold both rationality and religion in one's head at the same time without compartmentalization, which is one of the things rationality seeks to destroy.

I can actually quite easily accept that it could be a good idea for rationalists to adopt some of the community-building practices of religious groups, but I also think that rationality is necessarily corrosive to religion.

If you've squared that circle, I'd be interested to hear how. Being somewhat religious for the social bit but having excised the supernaturalism is the only stable state I can think of.

Comment author: Gray 11 May 2011 01:59:40AM 6 points [-]

Hmm? Thomas Bayes was a Presbyterian minister, C. S. Peirce was Catholic and Newton was an unorthodox Christian described as "highly religious". I'd be more interested in seeing a list of esteemed rationalists who were not religious compared to such a list that were religious. In any case, it is pretty clear that it is possible to hold rationality and religion in your head at the same time. This is basically how most people operate.

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