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Comment author: shminux 02 September 2014 07:15:23AM 0 points [-]

That'll teach me to reply to "please explain your downvotes" (now edited out) comments.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 02 September 2014 01:13:42PM 0 points [-]

What I meant was "give better explanations" rather than "give up on giving explanations", but it's entirely possible I was too harsh.

Comment author: shminux 02 September 2014 03:06:24AM 1 point [-]

This post gives me the standard impression of "a little learning is a dangerous thing". You learned enough to feel that you can contribute, not realizing that you are nowhere near the necessary level.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 02 September 2014 03:58:56AM -1 points [-]

Downvoted with extreme prejudice for not explaining what the specific problem with the post is.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 02 September 2014 03:57:56AM 0 points [-]

Is there good enough categorization of paradoxes that you can say "this statement is false" is a certain kind of paradox?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 01 September 2014 03:22:05PM 4 points [-]
Comment author: Sarunas 29 August 2014 10:11:59PM *  8 points [-]

I would also expect that Latvia gives it's minorities certain rights because it's legally obliged to do so under EU law that Ukraine didn't.

This isn't directly relevant to the discussion, but if Russia were ever to attack Latvia, their excuse would probably precisely be the treatment of ethnic Russians. It is, in fact, a recurring theme in Russian media.

The reason for this is that in order to be eligible for a full citizenship one is required to pass Latvian language competency and Latvian history exams. What is more, Latvia allows dual citizenship, but only if the other citizenship is of a country that belongs to the list that is specified by a law. Russia is not on the list.

Citizens of the former USSR who possess neither Latvian nor other citizenship who live in Latvia are eligible for a non-citizen passport. They are allowed to naturalize provided they pass the aforementioned exams. However, for various reasons many are unwilling (few are unable) to do so. For example, traveling to Russia is easier for a non-citizen than a citizen of Latvia. However, it is easier to work and travel in the Schengen Area if one is a non-citizen of Latvia than a citizen of Russia. Thus some people might find it disadvantageous to choose one citizenship (in their day-to-day lives traveling is more important than having the right to vote).

How such an unusual situation came into existence? If I understand correctly, in early 1990s Latvia desperately tried to avoid breakaway regions, because in 1989 only 49% of the non-Latvian population supported the idea of the independence of Latvia (the number of Latvians supporting the idea made up 93%). It should be noted that, according to wikipedia, such situation is not without a precedent:

Peter Van Elsuwege, a scholar in European law at Ghent University, states that the Latvian law is grounded upon the established legal principle that persons who settle under the rule of an occupying power gain no automatic right to nationality. A number of historic precedents support this, according to Van Elsuwege, most notably the case of Alsace-Lorraine when the French on recovering the territory in 1918 did not grant citizenship to German settlers despite Germany having annexed the territory 47 years earlier in 1871.

However, as you can imagine, the fact that these non-citizens (mostly Russians) do not have voting rights is a target of outrage in Russian media. Furthermore, many ethnic Russians in Latvia watch a lot of it and this results in them having different opinions (about e.g. situation in Ukraine) than ethnic Latvians. However, it is not clear whether they would actually support Russia in the case of armed conflict.

Please note that I'm neither Latvian, nor an expert on Latvian law, therefore the story above may contain some inaccuracies. Still, LW readers might find it helpful for their probability estimates of potential wars and/or other events.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 31 August 2014 04:15:56PM 1 point [-]

Thank you. I'd wondered about whether ethnic Russians were actually being mistreated, though this doesn't answer the question of whether they were being mistreated in Ukraine.

The next question is whether they've being treated differently now that Russia is doing some invading.

Comment author: shminux 29 August 2014 05:37:38PM 1 point [-]

Something like that, yes. I was talking about Russian tanks openly rolling across the border. But Putin found a way to do effectively the same without being so brazen. Which was one of the factors I missed.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 31 August 2014 04:11:33PM 0 points [-]

I'll going to look at the rationality skill of being able to tell whether you've anchored on a prototype. Has this already been explored?

Comment author: DanArmak 30 August 2014 10:28:28PM *  3 points [-]

"The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all."

Strip away the slightly overblown rhetoric, and you're left with Social Darwinism: the idea that desirable traits, or "fitness", is strongly heritable on the individual and therefore also the societal level. And racism: the idea that humans can be grouped into discrete categories the differences between which are much greater than the differences between individuals within each group.

Hitler and other Nazi thinkers made a lot of factual errors: mixing genetic/biological and memetic/cultural evolution together and even declaring them inseparable, greatly overstating the discreteness of races, and going against psychometric facts in declaring Jews to be vastly intellectually inferior. But scientific errors, which were not all that glaring given the 1920s state of knowledge and its popularization, and committed by a poorly educated non-scientist, do not make one "deranged" (i.e. crazy in some sense). And very many people in all nations in the 1920s, including some very smart ones, would have agreed with most of his statements, if not necessarily with the specific racial hierarchy he proposed.

The elevation of social Darwinism and racism into an ethical code was also not really unique and certainly I wouldn't call it "deranged", when contrasted with some other popular ideologies and ethical theories of the time (e.g. Communism through revolution, or Anarchism by Propaganda of the Deed, or even the divine right of kings, which only really died in Europe in WW1).

"the personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew."

I don't know whether to call it "deranged" or not. We would need to taboo the word. I do know it is far from original and was a common sentiment among many Christians.

"For how shall we fill people with blind faith in the correctness of a doctrine, if we ourselves spread uncertainty and doubt by constant changes in its outward structure? ...Here, too, we can learn by the example of the Catholic Church. Though its doctrinal edifice, and in part quite superfluously, comes into collision with exact science and research, it is none the less unwilling to sacrifice so much as one little syllable of its dogmas... it is only such dogmas which lend to the whole body the character of a faith."

I really don't see what's wrong here; it's a sound instrumental prescription. Is the entire Catholic Church "deranged" for following this rule?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 31 August 2014 04:06:04PM 0 points [-]

Strip away the slightly overblown rhetoric, and you're left with Social Darwinism: the idea that desirable traits, or "fitness", is strongly heritable on the individual and therefore also the societal level.

There's at least one more error-- the idea that you can tell in advance what "fitness" is going to be, so that you can select among human traits to optimize for the future.

Comment author: byrnema 29 August 2014 04:21:43PM 0 points [-]

Your comment is well-received. I'm continuing to to think about it and what this means for finding reliable media sources.

My impression of journalists has always been that they would be fairly idealistic about information and communicating that information to be attracted to their profession. I also imagine that their goals are constantly antagonized by the goals of their bosses, that do want to make money, and probably it is the case that the most successful sell-out or find a good trade-off that is not entirely ideal for them or the critical reader.

I'll link this article by Michael Volkmann, a disillusioned journalist.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 29 August 2014 06:21:54PM 1 point [-]

The link is making a different argument-- it says the problem isn't with the journalists or with their bosses, it's that the public isn't paying attention to the stories journalists are risking their necks to get.

Comment author: knb 29 August 2014 10:06:46AM *  9 points [-]

The analogies are much deeper here than merely "he is a guy we don't like, therefore Hitler". Things that happen inside Russia are also very disturbing -- I am trying to ignore politics, and I usually don't care about what happens in Russia, but some news still get to me -- Putin's supporters are openly nationalist, racist, homophobic, pretty much everything you associate with fascism, he has a strong support of the Orthodox Church, journalists who criticize him are assassinated.

All of these things also apply to the other examples I mentioned, and many other countries besides. People said the same things about Saddam, Qaddafi, Assad, etc. Putin is of course saying similar things about his Ukrainian enemies to what you are saying about him. (Admittedly, they make it easy for him.)

There is no shortage of historical examples of historical revanchism, yet the "Hitler in 1939" analogy utterly dominates. So why rely 100% on one analogy. Why insist on using the example that is the closest stand-in for "evil psychopath who cannot be reasoned with, but must be destroyed utterly?"

Probably because you're in the midst of a media driven two-minutes hate. History begins and ends with Hitler, 1939!

(Seriously, your standard for being Hitleresque is being racist, homophobic, and nationalistic? It might be a fun exercise for you to write down a list of 100 historical leaders, determine how many were/were not racist, homophobic, or nationalistic. This will give you your Hitler/non-Hitler ratio. Do you think the ratios of Hitlers : non-Hitlers is greater or less than 1?)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 29 August 2014 03:29:50PM 0 points [-]

Seriously, your standard for being Hitleresque is being racist, homophobic, and nationalistic?

Not just being nationalistic, not just being expansionist, but actually taking territory.

Comment author: Jurily 27 August 2014 11:10:08PM 1 point [-]

Is there a name for the following pattern?

  • Argument or just noticing confusion
  • "He looks way too confident, he's probably better at the field or has significant information"
  • Catastrophic failure more or less matching my predictions

I seem to run into this a lot lately, but the alternative of assuming I'm correct seems even worse. I'm also often not in a position to ask about the source of their confidence.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 28 August 2014 01:34:46AM 0 points [-]

Would you care to post some predictions?

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