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Comment author: loup-vaillant 25 July 2012 11:21:36PM *  0 points [-]

Fractional reserve is the inevitable consequence if Alice also promises that she'll give all or part of the money back to Charlie whenever he asks.

Under this scheme, fractional reserve banking is effectively unlimited. Yet many states do manage to put a limit (by making you guarantee part of your loans by money you actually own). They could, in principle, forbid it altogether without really affecting individual liberties.

To put it slightly differently, the way Alice adds value is by being good at finding Bobs and telling the difference between Bob and Billy Bankrupt-er.

Agree. That value must be tapped.

Holding Charlie's money is a cost to Alice, not a benefit.

Nitpick: Initial cost. She can have a net benefit if we account for the leverage the extra money give her. Though she does have to have the skills to exploit it. And it is a way to tap her value (though possibly not the only one).

And none of this has anything to do with credit default swaps, which I agree are much less defensible.

Of course. I merely talked about CDS because they are a way to create money.

If you ban this arrangement between Alice and Charlie, then Alice will not have money to give to Bob, and Bob's restaurant simply will never happen.

That is, assuming there aren't other ways to have or create money. We need to create money, but private money creation isn't the only way. States could print money, lend it to private banks, which would then lend it further (possibly with higher interests rates). (I'm not sure how this is different from fractional reserve banking. Maybe the state would have greater regulation power?) Or they could lend it directly (but then they need a way to find Alice). Or something.


Overall, I'm not sure usury is an unconditionally bad thing, or even a net bad thing. You made it quite clear it can do good. The key point I don't like about the whole system is the fact that most western states basically gave up control over money. Letting private banks create money is one step, and the last straw is to (mostly) forbid itself to print money. When a state borrows money, the money is created anyway. Why pay interest when your central bank's money is free? That's not in the interest of the people. That's in the interest of a few very rich people and corporations. Unless somehow their concentrating so much wealth is more beneficial to society. I don't trust states as effective charities, but right now I trust banks even less.

Comment author: Raw_Power 29 July 2012 10:30:28AM 0 points [-]

More importantly, it forces constant, exponential economic growth. Jormungard has to grow faster than he eats himself, or the world collapses.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 21 July 2012 11:25:22PM 0 points [-]

I don't know what you mean.

Comment author: Raw_Power 24 July 2012 10:54:27PM 0 points [-]

I got bogged down in the section on the development and spread of torture by electricity.

I thought it got too ugly for you and you just gave up in disgust at the senseless brutality.

Comment author: loup-vaillant 24 July 2012 02:39:10PM *  0 points [-]

There is a fair number of Lesswrongers that challenge the notion that "Democracy is Good".

That's not very surprising. "Democracy" isn't about democracy to begin with. The correct technical term for our political systems is "representative government". Today, that means choosing your next leaders among a select few that pass a number of filters, such as media exposure. The intention of such a system is to select an elite that is genuinely better at ruling us all than laypeople. Whether it actually works is another matter, especially if you look at the conflict of interest that went on in most constitutional processes: rulers writing the laws of ruling.

Democracy, on the other hand, is when the people rule directly. The most famous example of this it antique Athens (if we count women, slaves, and strangers as non-people). To be actually democratic, a political system's decisions must be sufficiently close to the (non-extrapolated) Coherent Volition of the set of people that live under it. Under this definition, representative government could very well be democratic. However, our western governments do quite differently. For instance, I'm sure there are a number of referendums that were subsequently not respected by the relevant governments. And I'm not even counting the times where there was no referendum in the first place.

By the way, I'm not even sure actual democracy would be very good. But it's the best I can think of, short of a Friendly AI.

Comment author: Raw_Power 24 July 2012 10:53:34PM 1 point [-]

You mean that "actual democracy" would be better than "representative government"?

Comment author: DanielLC 21 July 2012 03:33:31PM 0 points [-]

If you could single-handedly legalize it, it would be a good idea, but you can't. You might be able to help, so that you add a tiny probability of success, or a tiny decrease in the time necessary. Since you're helping a lot of people, it makes a significant difference over all. If you're only worried about one person, it's not really worth doing.

In your personal example, multiply the amount you donated by the increase in probability in getting the insulin pump. The result is more than the total costs of the insulin pumps, but is it more than it costs for one?

Comment author: Raw_Power 21 July 2012 11:20:00PM 1 point [-]

Actually, starting a lobby with the goal of legalizing apostasy sounds like a good idea...

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 21 July 2012 06:10:56PM 0 points [-]

The research on no marks torture has been done, so that's a sunk cost. I'm not sure about an effect on the chances of being set free.

There's a non-obvious cost to no marks torture-- it's confusing. Someone who's been subject to it can be unsure that they were actually tortured, and the same goes for compatriots who are suspect they've been betrayed for no good reason.

Torture and Democracy is interesting but somewhat overwhelming. I got bogged down in the section on the development and spread of torture by electricity. I should probably just skip that section.

Comment author: Raw_Power 21 July 2012 11:17:40PM 0 points [-]

You mean in terms of Body Horror?

Comment author: Grognor 19 July 2012 10:33:03PM 2 points [-]

Do you see that as a good thing?

Comment author: Raw_Power 21 July 2012 11:15:49PM 2 points [-]

Seeing improvements in ways that are immediately tabgible is very encouraging and motivating.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 21 July 2012 02:36:01AM *  4 points [-]

So, let's take this hypothetical (harrumph) youth. They see irrationality around them, obvious and immense, they see the waste and the pain it causes. They'd like to do something about it. How would you advise them to go about it?

I think math, science, and engineering education is likely very corrosive to religious belief. Seeing that things behave the way they do regardless of what anyone important thinks, and that you can figure it out, is likely a huge blow to religious thought (and intellectual authority in general). The world is no longer run by a magical will, it is a mechanism that runs according to its physical regularities. I don't think it is a coincidence that the enlightenment and the deistic clockwork universe came hand in hand.

On the authority point, I think it was Ian Hacking in The Emergence of Probability that traced out the changing meaning of "probable". Long ago, it meant something like "attested to by an authoritative source", and then changed to meaning "supported by evidence". That's a significant jump in my mind.

Teach people science and math, and they'll be able to figure out the rest. God is the explanation when you lack a better one.

Comment author: Raw_Power 21 July 2012 11:14:30PM 2 points [-]

People do have an astoundingly aggravating ability to compartimentalize these things, though: see "Outside The Laboratory".

Comment author: MagnetoHydroDynamics 20 July 2012 11:55:58AM 5 points [-]

"All men are created equal" is false insofar as looking at the atom configurations: every human is unique (by Quantum Indistinguishability, any non-unique humans are the same human). On the other hand it is probably true insofar as the CEV Morality Computation says.

"The lottery is a waste of hope" is true by an expected capital gain calculation (net loss) and putting mental energy into something that is a net loss is worse by utilitarianism than something that is a net gain (working hard and hoping you get rich) because at the very least, having money allows you to donate more to charity.

"Religious people are intolerant," largely depends on the religion how much of the scripture is "boo for unbelievers," but it seems to almost always incite ingroup-outgroup dichotomies in the psychology of the believers, and that I think is pretty much what intolerance springs from.

"Government is not the solution; government is the problem" is false, because humans generally need more than 'fairness' to avoid defection on the iterated prisoners dilemma. Many don't realise that bureaucracy is fair, if often slow and bloated. A real chance of punishment decided by fair trial is very effective at deterring defectors.

"George Washington was a better president than James Buchanan," depends solely on the criterion. Peoples opinion? Historical attitude? GDP growth rates? Precentage of votes won at election? Your own boo/yay rating? Mix and match as you like.

"The economy is doing worse today than it was ten years ago," depends on whether you look at GDP growth or GDP, global economic crisis means lower growth, but we are still richer than ten years ago.

"God exists," very unlikely, courtesy of Solomonoff Induction.

"One impulse from a vernal wood can teach you more of man, of moral evil, and of good than all the sages can," bluh? Is this some sort of pop culture reference? Depends on what vernal wood is: if it is something akin to the Akashic record granting omniscience, then it is true. If it is anything else, probably not.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge," false, the more knowledge you have, the more your lawful creativity can search, the better your imagination, the better you can use what you have gained with the eleventh virtue. Both are roughly equally important.

"Rationalists should win," mathematical tautology. Perfectly rational bayesian expected utility maximizers do just that. As humans, it is a good heuristic to avoid privileged rituals of thought.

Comment author: Raw_Power 20 July 2012 01:11:45PM 0 points [-]

Privileged Rituals of Thought?

Comment author: FiftyTwo 20 July 2012 12:18:37AM 8 points [-]

I think the analogy with treason is good but not in the way you mean, the fear of apostasy is not really that of a single unbeliever but that it might spread. Even if we ignore the group cohesion and self interest reasons for not wanting this, there are good altruistic reasons.

Imagine there is a drug that is pleasant in the short term but causes extreme suffering in later life, because individuals don't rationally calculate the effect of it at the time your society has banned it. If you know an individual is using it you might try and persuade them to stop personally, but if they start using it publicly, or worse telling others how awesome it is and that they've suffered no bad effects you would want to take stronger action for the good of others. (Imagine someone telling your kids to its cool to smoke.) All that seems perfectly rational. Now multiply the harm of "disease in later life" to that of "eternity in hell" and you can see why well intentioned people might support apostasy laws, especially if they allow people to publicly recant, at best sincerely and saving themselves, at worst insincerely but limiting the harm.

The problem is not that apostasy laws in themselves are irrational, if hell existed a lot of things would be justified in preventing it, its that they''re based on a flawed premise.

Comment author: Raw_Power 20 July 2012 06:42:45AM 5 points [-]

Thank you for helping me remember what it felt like to think that way. The Dark Side Will Make You Forget indeed... :P

Comment author: jimrandomh 19 July 2012 05:35:16PM 14 points [-]

Many countries have laws which are widely broken and selectively enforced, or which are easy to frame people for. In those cases, whether you are targeted and punished is a judgment call made by certain people in power, which in practice means that it depends mainly on not pissing off or threatening the wrong people, and on how effectively you would be expected to defend yourself (ie wealth and connections).

Comment author: Raw_Power 19 July 2012 06:05:09PM 3 points [-]

Well, I absolutely agree with all that you just said. But still, knowing what sentences the judge can dole out is important. The problem with mob-rousing stuff such as apostasy... or Frankenstein-monster raising, or being Black, or a Hugonot, or an adulterer, depending on context... is that you could easily be subjected to "mob justice", and there would be impunity for your murderers: Pontius Piwatus keeps his hands cwean, and evewyone is happy (the dead can't compwain).

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