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In response to comment by Salemicus on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Jade 16 January 2017 03:00:52AM *  1 point [-]

You left out the 'magical' part of my question. If magical beings exist(ed), then everything becomes more mysterious. That's partly why we don't pester JK Rowling about what extra-special boy Harry Potter was based on. We don't even suspect comic superheros like Batman, who has no magic, to have been based on a real-life billionaire. We certainly don't have scholars wasting time looking for evidence of 'the real Batman.' Modern stories of unlikely events are easily taken as imaginings, yet when people bucket a story as 'old/traditonal', for some people, that bucket includes 'characters must've been real persons', as if humans must've been too stupid to have imagination. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fakelore

In response to comment by Jade on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Salemicus 19 January 2017 12:08:27PM *  1 point [-]

No, I didn't leave that part out.

the closer the real Paul Bunyan hews to the Bunyan of the stories, the smaller the mystery

Of course magic makes everything else more mysterious i.e. P(magical Jesus) is infinitesimal. But P(non magical Jesus) is not low. We do ask JK Rowling what non magical boy inspired Harry Potter.

In response to comment by Salemicus on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Jade 11 January 2017 02:53:48AM 1 point [-]

Would you say the origins of other religions become more mysterious if there never were whatever magical beings those religions posit? Would you think it likely that Guanyin was real human of unknown gender? Do the origins of fictional stories become more mysterious if there never were the fictitious characters in the flesh? Did Paul Bunyan exist, as there were similar lumberjacks?

You're not supposed to tie yourself to any hypothesis, even if mainstream, but rather update your probability distributions. Bits of the NT weren't written until long enough after the supposed death of Jesus that people wouldn't have been like, 'Who you talkin' about?' And I doubt they would've cared whether the character existed, like no one cares whether Harry Potter existed, because it's the stories that matter.

In response to comment by Jade on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Salemicus 12 January 2017 11:36:08AM 1 point [-]

Would you say the origins of other religions become more mysterious if there never were whatever magical beings those religions posit?

Yes, of course.

The least mysterious explanation of Paul Bunyan stories is that there really was a Paul Bunyan. And the closer the real Paul Bunyan hews to the Bunyan of the stories, the smaller the mystery. P(stories about Bunyan | Bunyan) > P(stories about Bunyan | !Bunyan).

But just because a story is simple, doesn't necessarily make it likely. We can't conclude from the above that P(Bunyan | stories about Bunyan) > P(!Bunyan | stories about Bunyan).

In response to comment by Salemicus on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Jade 10 December 2016 10:38:59PM 1 point [-]
In response to comment by Jade on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Salemicus 07 January 2017 12:15:36PM 2 points [-]

Neither sufficient nor necessary:

  • The origins of Christianity become more mysterious, not less, if there never was a Jesus.
  • We don't need to tie ourselves to a fringe hypothesis to posit non-supernatural origins for the Gospels.
Comment author: passive_fist 03 November 2015 04:14:04AM 1 point [-]

Why, then, are you talking about the models' fit when answering the question of whether the "climate models can predict weather changes over long term periods" (emphasis mine)?

What other way is there? Building a time machine?

How else can you estimate the suitability of models in making predictions than testing their past predictions on current data?

Comment author: Salemicus 03 November 2015 03:58:01PM *  4 points [-]

One possible answer is to look at how the then-state-of-the-art models in (say) 1990, 1995, 2000, etc, predicted temperature changes going forwards.

The answer, in point-of-fact, is that they consistently predicted a considerably greater temperature rise than actually took place, although the actual temperature rise is just about within the error bars of most models.

Now, there are two plausible conclusions to this:

  • Those past mistakes have been appropriately corrected into today's models, so we don't need to worry too much about past failures.
  • This is like Paul Samuelson's economics textbook, which consistently (in editions published in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s) predicted that the Soviet Union would overtake the US economy in 25 years.
Comment author: Salemicus 04 September 2015 11:14:49AM *  1 point [-]

Stock markets. I am using them continuously (if passively).

Comment author: Salemicus 28 August 2015 01:54:28PM 5 points [-]

As usual, Nietzsche got there first:

The heaviest burden: What, if some day or night, a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life, as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life must return to you, all in the same succession and sequence — even this spider and this moonlight between the trees and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again—and you with it, speck of dust!’ Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god, and never have I heard anything more divine!’ If this thought were to gain possession of you, it would change you as you are, or perhaps crush you. The question in each and every thing, “do you want this once more and innumerable times more?” would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?

Comment author: Salemicus 20 August 2015 01:07:01PM 4 points [-]

I am a big fan of the Ideological Turing Test, and applying it to different domains, and I was happy to participate in this one. However, I wonder whether this is an appropriate domain.

I think the ITT works best when there are coherent and well-defined opposing positions, of roughly equal size and intensity. The abortion debate is a good example - while there are differences in emphasis and gradations of support, it is clear what the two sides are. Other good examples are the minimum wage debate, the global warming debate, and the debate. The ITT works worst when the positions are incoherent and ill-defined, or of grossly unequal size and intensity. "Was Tony Blair a good Prime Minister?" is a good example - it's not clear what it means to be a good Prime Minister, there are people who (dis)approve of him for diametrically opposite reasons, and his detractors are much more invested in the question than are his defenders.

Sadly, vegetarianism is much more like the latter than the former. Some people are vegetarians for health reasons, others for animal welfare reasons. Vegetarians typically feel strongly about the issue; non-vegetarians simply don't care about it, and have typically not considered the issue nearly as strongly. There is no "opposing side" to vegetarianism that would drive the ITT; all that links non-vegetarians is that they don't find vegetarian arguments compelling.

Comment author: pianoforte611 12 August 2015 08:54:50PM 2 points [-]

The U.S. prohibition was very successful at its goals (whether those goals were correct depends on your values). The minimum drinking age is also quite effective at its goals.

Comment author: Salemicus 13 August 2015 10:47:45AM 4 points [-]

US prohibition was very successful at its goal of reducing alchohol consumption, and you are right that this is insufficiently appreciated. But it also resulted in massive organised crime. Your linked article is extremely unpersuasive on this point.

Although organized crime flourished under its sway, Prohibition was not responsible for its appearance, as organized crime’s post-Repeal persistence has demonstrated.

Ha! And lest anyone thinks I'm being unfair, that is literally its only discussion of the massive increase in organized crime caused by Prohibition. In an article that repeatedly discusses the possibility of people being socialised into different modes of behaviour, too!

Now, "don't cause a massive increase in organised crime" wasn't exactly a goal of the WCTU et al when they were campaigning for Prohibition. It was simply not on their radar, so you're kinda right that Prohibition succeeded in its goals. But looking at the implicit goals more broadly, Prohibition was a disaster, despite its success at its ostensible primary goal, in exactly the way that Lumifer's "blinking ad" example demonstrates.

Comment author: MrMind 12 August 2015 09:38:27AM 1 point [-]

Uhm, I wonder if they are aware that prisoner's dilemma is defeated through pre-commitment. They are weeding out small dealers strengthening the big ones.

Comment author: Salemicus 12 August 2015 10:45:25AM 0 points [-]

Pre-commitment needs to be credible, verifiable and enforceable. If you're playing chicken, pre-commitment means throwing the steering-wheel out of the window, not just saying "I will never ever swerve, pinky-swear."

What is the relevant pre-commitment mechanism here, and how does it operate?

If anything, I would say large dealers are more vulnerable.

Comment author: bbleeker 11 August 2015 09:27:47PM 1 point [-]

Regarding factory farming - what alternative am I comparing it to? It's worse than happy animals frolicking in the fields, it's better than those animals not existing.

This is such a weird argument to me. It seems to me self-evident that happy animals > animals not existing > suffering animals. Or don't you think that factory animals are suffering?

Comment author: Salemicus 11 August 2015 10:29:24PM 2 points [-]

With my omnivore hat on:

I don't know what you mean by "suffering." Google defines it as "the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship." But just because you're going through pain and hardship, doesn't mean you'd rather be dead. You can be suffering in some ways, and still have a net-positive life - indeed, this is the normal meaning of suffering. Do you deny that the inhabitants of the Syrian refugee camps are suffering? Do you think they'd be better off not to have been born?

Do factory farmed animals sometimes suffer? Surely. Is their life such a constant torment that non-existence would be preferable? Surely not.

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