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Comment author: DeVliegendeHollander 01 April 2015 09:11:09AM 0 points [-]

To be frank I found D&D's alignment system too unrealistically moralistic, the good/evil angle. (Somehow I had this feeling that when New England Puritans turn halfways atheist, that is what results in this Drizzt Do'Urden type strictly moralistic TSR-fantasy.) There is a Hungarian more-or-less-D&D-clone RPG called M.A.G.U.S. (made when TSR rejected the request to allow translating 2nd ed) which kept law/chaos but replaced good/evil with life/death. Having a life alignment means both enjoying life and respecting the lives of others, basically not being a murderer. Having a death alignment both means not respecting the lives of others, and one's own life neither, being something sort of a depressed goth. I found this more plausible because they are more philosophical stances that you could adopt yourself from the inner view, while good/evil is a judgement others cast on you from an outer view. Nobody thinks they are evil, but having a death-alignment is more plausible that someone could adopt it from the inner view, I have seen some fascinating analyses that fascism/nazism had a certain death alignment i.e. it was not merely about murdering others, but seeing a heroic death as the best thing for one's own self too. (Churchills remark: any ideology that glorifies its followers dying runs out of people sooner or later. Warmbodyonomics.) Of course it is an oversimplified system too but it made alignments flesh out better - some evil folks would come accross more as tragic heroes, while unlike in the Puritan TSR-fantasy good heroes would not be self-denying half-monks but people who live with largesse, enjoy fun, sex, etc. (Note to self: get around to reading The Witcher, see if this is less tighter morality is a common characteristic of fantasy written in Central-Eastern Europe or not.)

Comment author: JoshuaZ 01 April 2015 12:16:07PM 0 points [-]

Actually, when I've run D&D campaigns, I've generally thrown out the alignment system for exactly this reason. I wanted a universe with a much grayer morality, not one where the fundamental laws of the universe tell you if an action is moral or not.

Comment author: DeVliegendeHollander 01 April 2015 10:54:19AM 5 points [-]

No doubt this post will drop into downvoted oblivion.

This is a rhethorical move IMHO. It's like when you say "I know it is a stupid question, but " then everybody expects something really bad, and in comparison finds your question not so stupid at all. Lowering expectations.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 01 April 2015 12:12:49PM 1 point [-]

Possible. But a number of the users comments have been actually downvoted to oblivion.

Comment author: CronoDAS 31 March 2015 07:11:28PM *  4 points [-]

I have a small problem. My girlfriend (that I've been with for almost a year, and hope to be with for more years to come) has something of a New Age/unscientific worldview, which I find slightly disturbing, but I don't know how to attempt to "convert" her to something, well, less wrong, without upsetting her or making her feel stupid or something like that, or even how to react to her talking about her more "unusual" experiences.

A trivial example: She once mentioned that a certain kind of stone (it may have been hematite) had "healing powers". I expressed vague skepticism but didn't press the issue any further.

More seriously, my girlfriend has told me stories about seeing and interacting with "spirits", although she's asked me not to repeat any of them, and I've had to reassure her that no, I don't think she's crazy. For example, she said that whenever she goes to a particular railroad crossing, she always sees a woman riding a bicycle along the tracks that nobody else sees, and that one side of the woman's head looks horribly injured. There's another spirit, which she says reminds her of me, that usually hangs out on the roof outside her second-story window on nights when I'm not there, and sort of stands guard. He's asked to come in, but she says that spirits can't come in if you don't let them and she's always said no, except once when she was in a hotel and he spent the night on the side of the double bed she wasn't sleeping on.

I'm not sure how to react or deal with this. She feels kind of fragile emotionally to me, so I have to tread lightly; her father died when she was seven and her mother died when she was thirteen, and she says she's always afraid people are going to leave her. She also has something of an inferiority complex and is hypersensitive to perceived slights. She worries that, because didn't do well in school, people (including me) will treat her like she's stupid. She's also fat and she thinks it makes her ugly. I, of course, think she's beautiful and sexy, but she doesn't quite believe me when I tell her that.

Any advice? ("Break up with her" will be ignored.)

Comment author: JoshuaZ 31 March 2015 09:22:11PM 2 points [-]

There's a massive difference between thinking that certain stones have "healing properties" and claiming to see spirits. The first is regular New Age junk beliefs, the second is substantially more disturbing and may indicate serious mental health issues, or some form of special-snowflake syndrome. Has seen anyone for counseling?

Comment author: advancedatheist 31 March 2015 03:09:11PM 0 points [-]

No doubt this post will drop into downvoted oblivion. But I would like to explore the following, for personal reasons:

Have you ever used the services of a legal prostitute, like the ones who operate in bordellos in some Nevada counties? Did you have your sexual debut with a legal prostitute because you couldn’t make it happen in your organic social situation while growing up, for example, with girls you knew in high school or college? And did that experience somehow make it easier to develop the skills for having sexual relationships with women through dating? Or does it still leave you relatively incompetent in that area because prostitutes don’t really solve the sex problem you thought you had?

I don’t know of any research into this. But then professional sex researchers in general seem strangely incurious about the problems of sexually inexperienced and excluded adult men, judging from the absence of this topic in the recently published Human Sexuality 101 textbooks I’ve seen.

BTW, I find it interesting that over a decade ago, Eliezer described himself in a news story as a “volunteer virgin,” though he has since become sexually active. That implies he had opportunities for sexual relationships that he had simply declined until something happened to change his mind about pursuing them. Perhaps he realized that sexual experience would elevate his “armor class” in the male status hierarchy. It would also improve his social relationships with women in other areas; women can pick up on the “tells,” as Texas Hold’em players call them, of sexually inexperienced men, and they tend not to respect them.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 31 March 2015 06:07:15PM 5 points [-]

No doubt this post will drop into downvoted oblivion.

If posts on certain topics are getting downvoted repeatedly, maybe it may make sense to pay attention to that feedback that the community is either not interested in the subjects in question or strongly objects to the presentation of the posts in question.

Comment author: Lumifer 31 March 2015 03:02:34PM 1 point [-]

Is this then what you are talking about?

I've also tried to follow three links from the Wikipedia on EROEI for solar panel and couldn't find anything accessible. You don't happen to have a link handy for the calculations and underlying assumptions?

Comment author: JoshuaZ 31 March 2015 03:19:41PM 1 point [-]

Is this then what you are talking about?

What he's talking about here is a little different than energy cannibalism but they are definitely related. Energy cannibalism occurs due to rapid growth. The observation here is that the problem of this nature occurs even with slow growth of the solar, wind and nuclear.

Not off the top of my head. Heinberg's "Searching for a Miracle: ‘Net Energy’ Limits and the Fate of Industrial Society" has some calculations and references- he gets a slightly more pessimistic numbers but still well over 1 for both photovoltaic solar and wind question. I'd also point to this source. There's disagreement over what the EROEI of most of these is, but there's no serious argument that they aren't greater than 1.

Comment author: Lumifer 31 March 2015 02:39:54PM 0 points [-]

The observation that the manufacture, delivery, installation, and maintenance of "clean" energy devices can, and on a regular basis does, cost more energy than the device is expected to return over its lifetime is not new and regularly features in sources which you probably do not read.

It's a well-known problem that people of a particular ideological persuasion tend to studiously ignore.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 31 March 2015 02:43:59PM 1 point [-]

The observation that the manufacture, delivery, installation, and maintenance of "clean" energy devices can, and on a regular basis does, cost more energy than the device is expected to return over its lifetime is not new and regularly features in sources which you probably do not read.

The claim here is not that the energy use won't make return over its lifetime is not the claim being made here. (And that's incidentally false: the EROEI for wind and solar and nuclear are all much greater than 1. See e.g. the table here). What's being argued here is much more interesting and subtle, namely that there's a separate problem because the energy return is occurring over a long period of time.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 31 March 2015 02:21:02PM 2 points [-]

I recently encountered this very disturbing blog post arguing that there's an "energy trap" in using energy sources like wind, solar and nuclear because even as they may have high enough energy return on energy investment, since the energy return is spread out over many years, switching to them results in an energy investment that doesn't pay back quickly enough if one is trying to switch to a non-fossil fuel based economy. I'm not completely sure I buy into it: it seems like it assumes a very narrow range of EROEIs and even small improvements in the efficiency end might not lead to this problem. It is also possible that other improvements in energy use (e.g. more efficient cars and better battery technology) could help evade this sort of thing. But I'm not sure enough to evaluate the argument strongly one way or another. Thoughts?

Comment author: DeVliegendeHollander 31 March 2015 12:49:29PM *  4 points [-]

LW and related blogs are basically spoiling fantasy fiction to me. DAE have an experience like this? How to overcome it?

My formerly existing but weakly skeptical atheism and generic anti-supernaturalism got really strengthened here. I bought into the idea that the supernatural means the propositon that some mental things are are not reducible to nonmental things and from that it is only a small jump to say that mental things are entirely in the map, not in the terrain, it is a useful shorthand model to think of some things as mental but they are never irreducibly so in the terrain. So irreducibly mental things i.e. supernatural things are always, in principle, map-terrain mistakes. So we can on the map level think of medicine having healing properties, because the effect they have on a certain condition is what we put into a mental category of making us "healthier", but the medicine does not actually heal bodies, it just changes bodies. From this viewpoint, a Potion of Healing is map-terrain mistake, as it suggests a substance could have a real healing property. But healing is a mental property, a property of models, maps, not real things. You could say the same about a magic sword that has an bloodthirsty evil spirit in it. The real world has only change, certain things can effect certain changes, but it is entirely a mental model that we call that change helping, harming, healing, good, evil, cruel, nice, killing, purifying etc.

Sh1t, now it seems to me the single most important step from the medieval-alchemical world to the world of science was understanding the map-terrain problem! That a Philosopher's Stone (which does not simply turn lead to gold but improves everything) cannot exist in principle and not just empirically doesn't, because the idea of improvement itself is a mental category that does not exist in the terrain!

And now my beloved Dragonlance novels feel utterly stupid to me.

(Note: I haven't read HPMOR beyond the first few chapters, the conflation of the two worlds, rational and fantasy, made me feel uncomfortable and dizzy somehow.)

For fun, what is the worst fantasy or other fictional offender of mistaking mental phenomena for something essentially real? My proposal: the ideas that goodness or evil are substances and they can formed into magic objects such as sword made of pure evil. Not sure where I've read that but pretty sure some novels proposed something like that.

If you can recommend any further reading even if only tangentially relevant to what I wrote here I will be grateful. Am I no the first one to notice the all-improving Philosopher's Stone could not exist in principle because improvement is a mental category and not real, right?

Comment author: JoshuaZ 31 March 2015 01:49:28PM 3 points [-]

LW and related blogs are basically spoiling fantasy fiction to me. DAE have an experience like this? How to overcome it?

Interesting. I haven't had this experience much at all, primarily because the entire genre is occurring specifically in universes where all these lessons we know don't apply, where there somehow really is no clear line between the map and the territory, or where the basics of the default versions of the map match the territory so closely that it doesn't make a difference.

I'm not sure the potion of healing example is actually a good one though: a healing potion could "heal" in specific changes that we simply label healing as such. I've read at least one fantasy series where cancer was specifically called out as something that regular healing magic couldn't help with and the implication was that (although the characters didn't understand it) that healing magic accelerated cell growth of cells similar to the human cells already present, and the magic couldn't differentiate between healthy human cells and the very small changes that make cells cancerous.

There seems to be a sliding scale of fantasy in how much the universe resembles our own or how much careful thinking goes into the nature of magic in that context. Dragonlance seems to be somewhat on one end while maybe some of Brandon Sanderson's novels might be closer to the careful thinking end.

Comment author: Romashka 30 March 2015 05:32:23PM 0 points [-]

But is it the right thing that should be surprisingly difficult in chemistry class? I mean, we learned to disregard the nature of ions floating in the solution, as long as those ions can or cannot bind to each other. Great! You can probably explain things about sets, intersections, etc., to people who are used to such operations, but how is it chemistry? How does it control our anticipations about compounds (beyond a restricted range of interactions)? Analytical chem is not taught in high school (wasn't in ours, anyway).

Comment author: JoshuaZ 30 March 2015 05:35:05PM 0 points [-]

Hmm, I'm not sure. From your initial comment it sounded like there was more actual chemistry going on, but now I'm wondering if the amount of actual chemistry really is less than there was when I was in school.

Comment author: seer 27 March 2015 02:56:24AM 4 points [-]

The problem is that Rawls asserts that everyone is maximally risk-averse.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 30 March 2015 05:31:28PM -1 points [-]

I don't think Rawls makes that assertion. Rawls does presume some amount of risk aversion, but it seems highly inaccurate to say that Rawls asserts that "everyone is maximally risk-averse."

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