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Comment author: Lumifer 21 November 2014 04:11:24PM *  5 points [-]

If the strip was also clever or funny,

It is funny. Not the best xkcd ever, but not worse than the norm for it.

Comment author: MugaSofer 22 November 2014 03:27:32PM 2 points [-]

Really? I honestly found it pretty unfunny.

Comment author: Konkvistador 18 April 2011 06:03:24AM *  3 points [-]

So why don't most people extend the same sympathy they would give Brits who don't like pictures of salmon, to Muslims who don't like pictures of Mohammed?

  1. Because people who take their religion and its taboos seriously are low status in the West.

  2. Mind projection fallacy: We assume most Muslims don't take their religion seriously like most Christians or Jews don't. We see them using a technicality to claim offence where there is none in order to control us or display dominance over our tribe.

  3. They aren't part of our tribe. And worse they belong to a culturally powerful, demographically ascendant and politically threatening tribe.

Another thing I find interesting is that such a argument would never be set up using the example of piss Christ or a desecrated Talmud. I think the reason such a argument is employed using the Muslims as an example is because we quietly accept that Christians, Hindus, Shintoist and Jews are very unlikely to retaliate with violence compared to Muslims. We hide this so it seems that we are arguing about general principles but we are actually arguing about this specific situation based on appeal to consequences.

Note: I don't think this is the case with this LW article but I do think it is the case with many other ones available in the media and on-line.

PS: Excellent article! The debate it provoked is very much intriguing. Upvoted.

Comment author: MugaSofer 17 November 2014 07:33:34PM -1 points [-]

Another thing I find interesting is that such a argument would never be set up using the example of piss Christ or a desecrated Talmud.

Interestingly, I have seen (less well-written) versions of this argument used for anti-Christian blasphemy, including "Piss Christ".

I live in Ireland, which is known for it's strong Catholic values. So ... yup, this seems to fit with your theory.

Comment author: jtk3 19 April 2011 01:03:15AM 10 points [-]

To hold that speech is interchangeable with violence is to hold that a bullet can be the appropriate answer to an argument.

Comment author: MugaSofer 17 November 2014 06:52:12PM *  -1 points [-]

To hold that speech is interchangeable with violence is to hold that a bullet can be the appropriate answer to an argument.

I wouldn't consider a picture of Muhammad to be an "argument", would you?

Comment author: jtk3 18 April 2011 06:28:51PM 9 points [-]

What would you think of Brits who could have their electrodes removed, but preferred to leave them in?

Personally, it would reduce my interest in being careful with salmon pictures.

Comment author: MugaSofer 17 November 2014 04:53:46PM -1 points [-]

What if they claimed to experience benefits from the implants? For example, they might cure certain neurological conditions.

Would you then expect them to remove the implants or be jolted?

Comment author: Xachariah 21 April 2011 10:37:45AM *  35 points [-]

I notice that I would not support showing British people pictures of Salmon.

I notice that I would support showing Muslim people pictures of Mohammad.

These two situations seem nearly identical.

I notice that I am confused.

I see two analogous situations, and yet I come to two different conclusions. Therefore, there must be some difference between them, even if it only lies in my perceptions. Perhaps by carving these situations at their joints, I can find why it is I come away with different conclusions. Explicitly, I remember the stated differences.

1) Race/Culturism - The British are British and not Muslim

2) Blame - The British are not "at fault" as victims of a prank while the Muslims are "at fault" by virtue of being members of a religion

As a detirminist, I cannot say that the Muslims chose to be Muslims any more than British people chose to be waylayed by a prankster in the night. That seems very damning; this only leaves the option that I must be racist. However, there is perhaps a third option that is missing. Implicitly, I notice a number of unstated differences that can only be assumed.

3) Treatability - The British people have an electrode installed, which implies to me they receive the same disutility for every salmon picture seen. After year of salmon pictures, the 366th day of seeing salmon pictures would hurt just as much as the 1st day. In Muslims, the disutility of seeing pictures of Mohammad decreases until it eventually disappears. It is possible to 'cure' a muslim of recieving disutility from pictures of Mohammad in a way it is not possible with the British.

4) Resistance - The British people do not want to have an aversion to salmon. If given the choice to remove the salmon reaction, they would do so. The Muslim people want to have an aversion to Mohammad. In fact, they consider it morally right to hate pictures of Mohammad.

5) Propagation - A salmon averse Briton would hate seeing pictures of Salmon all his life, and then would die. In the worst case, the world has to live without pictures of salmon for 100 years, assuming the singularity doesn't hit before then. Muslims will teach their children to have the same aversions they do. Worst case scenario, 10,000 years from now we'll be sending messages to our other planets across galaxies but we still can't make pictures of the prophet Mohammad.

6) Mutation - A Briton would be pained by pictures of only Salmon until their end of days. The aversion to pictures of Mohammad has already mutated into anything critical towards Islam. Specifically, Van Gogh died due to women's rights, a trait only marginally related to Mohammad in as much as his film used verses from the Quran. An appropriate analogy would be if salmon-aversion mutated to hating all pictures or discussion of fish, because they're somewhat similar to salmon.

7) Virulence - Losing the right to show salmon to British people would only hurt a small subset of nature photographers. Losing the right to criticize Islam already hampers a number of humanitarian efforts in the Middle East (eg women's rights). If we were to extend the salmon analogy, we would require the British to hate fighting climate change, because it's sort of related to saving fish.

8) Pathogenicity - The British seem to respond to seeing pictures of fish with polite inquiries to stop and social pressure. Muslim extremists respond to pictures of Mohammad or media critical of Islam with death threats, assassinations, and government blocks.

These are significant differences, and most of them I didn't notice until I started enumerating the differences. The question is, is the difference in my reaction caused by the explicit differences (#1-2) or the implicit differences (#3-8). I shall return to the original scenario and remove those explicit differences. If my reaction to the modified scenario remains constant, it means that I made my decision based on explicit differences. If my reaction to the modified scenario changes, it means I made my decision based on implicit differences.

Imagine that one night, an alien prankster secretly implants electrodes into the brains of an entire country - let's say Britain. The next day, everyone in Britain discovers that pictures of salmon suddenly give them jolts of painful psychic distress. Every time they see a picture of a salmon, or they hear about someone photographing a salmon, or they even contemplate taking such a picture themselves, they get a feeling of wrongness that ruins their entire day. The chip also modifies the British people's behavior such that they believe having this sense of wrongness is morally right. When their children are born, they implant these salmon hating electrodes in them. Interestingly, these electrodes have a number of flaws (or features), such as repeated exposure to salmon burns out the salmon-hating batteries. Another flaw (or feature) is that this aversion to salmon can mutate to an aversion of any sort of aquatic animal or cause relating to aquatic animals. Great Briton quickly becomes currently the only country attempting to fight against reduction of Global Climate Change. A number of climate change scientists and activists receive death threats by the British people for their work. Tragedy strikes when filmmaker Al Gore is assassinated for his quote "salmon-loving ways" unquote.

Sweet zombie jesus! That's a scenario that sends shivers down my spine. I would do everything I could to burn out those salmon-hating microchips. It seems that the difference in my reactions really is based on implicit differences I could not easily identify. On further reflection, Race and Nationality and even (surprisingly) Religion were irrelevant to my decision making compared to the consequences caused by the salmon/Mohammad meme.

Now another scenario. Imagine that those Muslims who hate seeing Mohammad got chosen by the prankster to get the salmon-hating electrodes in their brain. (The original salmon-chips Yvain made, not these nightmarish self-replicating, self-mutating ones I made.) They hate seeing both pictures of Salmon and pictures of Mohammad. In this case I would not support showing the Muslims pictures of Salmon, but I would support showing the Muslims pictures of Mohammad. This is consistent with my prior decisions and internally consistent with my morals.

Let me revisit my first statements now, with sticky and emotional words dissolved.

I notice that I would not support showing any people pictures of anything, if it caused pain but did not make the world a better place.

I notice that I would support showing any people pictures of anything, if it caused pain but helped make the world a better place.

These two situations are not nearly as identical as they appeared at first glance.

I notice that I am no longer confused.

Comment author: MugaSofer 17 November 2014 04:43:44PM -2 points [-]

This analysis seems be assuming that Muslims will deconvert if only they're shown a sufficient number of pictures of Muhammad.

Comment author: MugaSofer 16 November 2014 11:51:16AM *  -1 points [-]

Got another potential b) here.

In response to comment by MugaSofer on On Caring
Comment author: dthunt 17 October 2014 06:08:22PM 2 points [-]

Hey, I just wanted to chime in here. I found the moral argument against eating animals compelling for years but lived fairly happily in conflict with my intuitions there. I was literally saying, "I find the moral argument for vegetarianism compelling" while eating a burger, and feeling only slightly awkward doing so.

It is in fact possible (possibly common) for people to 'reason backward' from behavior (eat meat) to values ("I don't mind large groups of animals dying"). I think that particular example CAN be consistent with your moral function (if you really don't care about non-human animals very much at all) - but by no means is that guaranteed.

In response to comment by dthunt on On Caring
Comment author: MugaSofer 18 October 2014 05:32:29PM 3 points [-]

That's a good point. Humans are disturbingly good at motivated reasoning and compartmentalization on occasion.

In response to comment by MugaSofer on On Caring
Comment author: dthunt 17 October 2014 06:08:22PM 2 points [-]

Hey, I just wanted to chime in here. I found the moral argument against eating animals compelling for years but lived fairly happily in conflict with my intuitions there. I was literally saying, "I find the moral argument for vegetarianism compelling" while eating a burger, and feeling only slightly awkward doing so.

It is in fact possible (possibly common) for people to 'reason backward' from behavior (eat meat) to values ("I don't mind large groups of animals dying"). I think that particular example CAN be consistent with your moral function (if you really don't care about non-human animals very much at all) - but by no means is that guaranteed.

In response to comment by dthunt on On Caring
Comment author: MugaSofer 18 October 2014 05:07:07PM *  0 points [-]

Double-post.

In response to comment by MugaSofer on On Caring
Comment author: SaidAchmiz 13 October 2014 04:21:48PM 1 point [-]

you have to sort of act as if your brain was screaming that loudly even when your brain doesn't have a voice that loud.

Why should I act this way?

In response to comment by SaidAchmiz on On Caring
Comment author: MugaSofer 18 October 2014 04:02:07PM *  0 points [-]

To better approximate a perfectly-rational Bayesian reasoner (with your values.)

Which, presumably, would be able to model the universe correctly complete with large numbers.

That's the theory, anyway. Y'know, the same way you'd switch in a Monty Haul problem even if you don't understand it intuitively.

In response to On Caring
Comment author: Kyrorh 09 October 2014 06:20:47AM 3 points [-]

Many of us go through life understanding that we should care about people suffering far away from us, but failing to.

That is the thing that I never got. If I tell my brain to model a mind that cares, it comes up empty. I seem to literally be incapable of even imagining the thought process that would lead me to care for people I don't know.

If anybody knows how to fix that, please tell me.

In response to comment by Kyrorh on On Caring
Comment author: MugaSofer 10 October 2014 01:57:39PM -1 points [-]

I think this is the OP's point - there is no (human) mind capable of caring, because human brains aren't capable of modelling numbers that large properly. If you can't contain a mind, you can't use your usual "imaginary person" modules to shift your brain into that "gear".

So - until you find a better way! - you have to sort of act as if your brain was screaming that loudly even when your brain doesn't have a voice that loud.

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