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In response to Two Cult Koans
Comment author: Kat 21 December 2007 03:13:03PM 4 points [-]

I had a friend in college who was a philosophy major; he'd been raised a fundamentalist Christian, and turned from that into some sort of chaotic evil deist. I used to enjoy arguing philosophy and ethics with him. But the further he got into his study, the more his arguments turned into half-understood quotations of Wittgenstein and Kant, and his debating technique turned into sophistries and trying to name and call out others' logical fallacies, sometimes correctly and sometimes not -- the same techniques he grew up with, only without having to wake up early on Sunday. I don't argue with him anymore...

Comment author: Kat 20 November 2007 08:38:46PM 8 points [-]

What I find embarrassing about knowing just a little bit about a subject is that outside of a formal class, there are few places to talk about it; particularly, few places to talk about it with people who will bring your further toward understanding what you've learned. If you learn a little bit of the mathematics of a subject, you're not interesting to the specialists, and most others won't be interested in the subject at all.

It seems easier to find a community around learning things that are less academic subjects, where you'll generally learn them in an informal structure anyhow -- cooking, crafts, foreign languages.

(I do like the idea of The Simple Math of Everything...)

Comment author: Kat 30 October 2007 04:56:38AM 1 point [-]

The dust specks seem like the "obvious" answer to me, but how large the tiny harm must be to cross the line where the unthinkably huge number of them outweighs a single tremendous one isn't something I could easily say, when clearly I don't think simply calculating the total amount of harm caused is the right measure.