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Comment author: Viliam_Bur 30 July 2014 03:33:47PM *  0 points [-]

Just a silly idea: Is there a relationship between Philosopher Stone and Philosophical Zombie?

Perhaps the Stone can provide immortality in combination with Horcrux. Step 1: use Philosopher Stone to remove the victim's qualia, changing them into a Philosphical Zombie. Step 2: use Horcrux to copy yourself into the victim's body. Now your qualia will not mix with their, so the new person is definitely you.

Comment author: 75th 29 July 2014 08:50:30PM *  2 points [-]

/u/solipsist, in another comment on this thread:

Do not try to obtain Sstone yoursself. I forbid.

This was said by Quirrell in Parseltongue. If you can only tell the truth in Parseltongue, then Quirrell was really forbidding Harry from obtaining the stone himself.

If Quirrell can't lie in Parseltongue (and not just Harry, since Harry's speaking as a standard Parselmouth but Quirrell is speaking as a sentient snake), and if that prohibition enforces the sincerity of imperative commands and not just declarative statements, then clearly what Quirrell is saying is that Harry should try to make his own Philosopher's Stone.

"It's not a secret." Hermione flipped the page, showing Harry the diagrams. "The instructions are right on the next page. It's just so difficult that only Nicholas Flamel's done it."


"Well, it can't work," Hermione said. She'd flown across the library to look up the only book on alchemy that wasn't in the Restricted Section. And then - she remembered the crushing letdown, all the sudden hope dissipating like mist. "Because all alchemical circles have to be drawn 'to the fineness of a child's hair', it isn't any finer for some alchemies than others. And wizards have Omnioculars, and I haven't heard of any spells where you use Omnioculars to magnify things and do them exactly.

So the first thing Hermione mentions as a limitation of doing alchemy is the insane precision of the circle you have to draw. But what if there were already an acceptable, permanent alchemy setup just lying around somewhere where Harry could get to it?

The three of them stood within the Headmaster's private Transfiguration workroom, where the shining phoenix of Dumbledore's Patronus had told her to bring Harry, moments after her own Patronus had reached him. Light shone down through the skylights and illuminated the great seven-pointed alchemical diagram drawn in the center of the circular room, showing it to be a little dusty, which saddened Minerva. Transfiguration research was one of Dumbledore's great enjoyments, and she'd known how pressed for time he'd been lately, but not that he was this pressed.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 30 July 2014 09:12:30AM 0 points [-]

So the first thing Hermione mentions as a limitation of doing alchemy is the insane precision of the circle you have to draw.

I guess I know what Harry told Fred/George to buy him in Chapter 98. The greatest alchemist tool ever! :D

Comment author: Lumifer 29 July 2014 03:00:10PM 2 points [-]

Okay, women have a preference along a single axis which they do nothing about and do not express at all. The framework as described is all about what active agenty men could or should do to entirely passive npc women. I'm very far from being a feminist, but come on -- this is objectification and "don't worry your pretty head about it".

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 30 July 2014 08:46:45AM *  6 points [-]

I have a preference for eating tasty food in restaurants. But I am absolutely not interested in teaching chefs how to cook. If I am not satisfied with the food, I will simply never come back to that restaurant again. There are many restaurants to choose from. I don't really care about what happens to the owner of the bad restaurant; it's their problem, not mine.

Does this make me an entirely passive NPC, because I completely refuse to participate in this "how to get better at cooking" business and merely evaluate my satisfaction with the results? I don't think this would be a fair description. I am not waiting helplessly; my strategy is evaluating different restaurants and choosing the best. Yeah, if we assume that each chef can only make a limited amount of food, I am kinda playing a zero-sum game against other customers here. But still, playing zero-sum games is not passivity.

But a naive chef could complain: "All those customers do is criticize. They never help us, never teach us. How are we supposed to learn? Everyone's first cooked meal is far from perfect. Practice makes perfect, but practice inevitably includes making a few mistakes." From his point of view, the customers are kinda passive: they want better food, but they are not helping anyone to cook better; they merely avoid those who cook worse, which per se does not make them cook better.

(To make it even worse, in this world vocational schools for chefs have a very bad reputation. People believe they all teach you to use the cheapest ingredients and artificial flavors, because they once read an internet forum where a few chefs debated exactly this. Thus most chefs take a great care to avoid anything that could remind their customers of a vocational school.)

Comment author: Nornagest 29 July 2014 06:32:50PM *  3 points [-]

Don't think that'd work. Traditional practices and attitudes are a sacred category in this sort of discourse, but that doesn't mean they're unassailable -- it just means that any sufficiently inconvenient ones get dismissed as outliers or distortions or fabrications rather than being attacked directly. It helps, of course, that in this case they'd actually be fabrications.

Focusing on feelings is the right way to go, though. This probably needs more refinement, but I think you should do something along the lines of saying that exercise makes you feel happier and more capable (which happens to be true, at least for me), and that bringing tangible consequences into the picture helps people escape middle-class patriarchal white Western consumer culture's relentless focus on immediate short-term gratification (true from a certain point of view, although not a framing I'd normally use). After that you can talk about how traditional cultures are less sedentary, but don't make membership claims and do not mention outcomes. You're not torturing yourself to meet racist, sexist expectations of health and fitness; you're meeting spiritual, mental, and incidentally physical needs that the establishment's conditioned you to neglect. The shock is a reminder of what they've stolen from you.

You'll probably still get accusations of internalized kyriarchy that way, but it ought to at least be controversial, and it won't get you accused of mansplaining.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 30 July 2014 08:11:59AM *  1 point [-]

I think this is still too logical to work. Each step of an argument is another place that can be attacked. And because attacks are allowed to be illogical, even the most logical step has maybe 50% chance of breaking the chain. The shortest, and therefore the most powerful argument, is simply "X offends me!" (But to use this argument, you must belong to a group whose feelings are included in the social justice utility function.)

Now that I think about it, this probably explains why in this kind of debates you never get an explanation, only an angry "It's not my job to educate you!" when you ask about something. Using arguments and explanations is a losing strategy. (Also, it is what the bad guys do. You don't want to be pattern-matched to them.) Which is why people skilled in playing the game never provide explanations.

I hope your rationalist toucan is signed up for cryonics. :P

Comment author: ThisSpaceAvailable 29 July 2014 02:16:50AM 2 points [-]

And what do you think the plain meaning of the words is? "Soft core pornography" is generally understood to refer to video or photographs of people who are naked but not having sex (and that's not the "plain meaning" of the words, but common idiom). My understanding is that the Fifty Shades of Grey book does not contain any photographs, and the people in the book do in fact have sex.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 29 July 2014 09:12:07AM *  2 points [-]

Some people are easily sexually aroused by pictures, some by words. Stereotypes say that men usually prefer pictures, and women prefer words. Also, if the product is too obviously designed for the purpose of sexual arousal, that is considered low status.

So, the trick is to create a book sexually arousing enough that it will increase sales, but not too much so that it would reduce the status of customers; we need some plausible deniability that the customers are buying a piece of art. Twilight plays it safe, Fifty Shades of Grey tries to push it as far as possible.

Comment author: sediment 28 July 2014 10:21:55PM *  42 points [-]

I recently made a dissenting comment on a biggish, well-known-ish social-justice-y blog. The comment was on a post about a bracelet which one could wear and which would zap you with a painful (though presumably safe) electric shock at the end of a day if you hadn't done enough exercise that day. The post was decrying this as an example of society's rampant body-shaming and fat-shaming, which had reached such an insane pitch that people are now willing to torture themselves in order to be content with their body image.

I explained as best I could in a couple of shortish paragraphs some ideas about akrasia and precommitment in light of which this device made some sense. I also mentioned in passing that there were good reasons to want to exercise that had nothing to do with an unhealthy body image, such as that it's good for you and improves your mood. For reasons I don't fully understand, these latter turned out to be surprisingly controversial points. (For example, surreally enough, someone asked to see my trainer's certificate and/or medical degree before they would let me get away with the outlandish claim that exercise makes you live longer. Someone else brought up the weird edge case that it's possible to exercise too much, and that if you're in such a position then more exercise will shorten, not lengthen, your life.)

Further to that, I was accused of mansplaining twice. and then was asked to leave by the blog owner on grounds of being "tedious as fuck". (Granted, but it's hard not to end up tedious as fuck when you're picked up on and hence have to justify claims like "exercise is good for you".)

This is admittedly minor, so why am I posting about it here? Just because it made me realize a few things:

  • It was an interesting case study in memeplex collision. I felt like not only did I hold a different position to the rest of those present, but we had entirely different background assumptions about how one makes a case for said position. There was a near-Kuhnian incommensurability between us.
  • I felt my otherwise-mostly-dormant tribal status-seeking circuits fire up - nay, go into overdrive. I had lost face and been publicly humiliated, and the only way to regain the lost status was to come up with the ultimate putdown and "win" the argument. (A losing battle if ever there was one.) It kept coming to the front of my mind when I was trying to get other things done and, at a time when I have plenty of more important things to worry about, I wasted a lot of cycles on running over and over the arguments and formulating optimal comebacks and responses. I had to actively choose to disengage (in spite of the temptation to keep posting) because I could see I had more invested in it and it was taking up a greater cognitive load than I'd ever intended. This seems like a good reason to avoid arguing on the internet in general: it will fire up all the wrong parts of your brain, and you'll find it harder to disengage than you anticipated.
  • It made me realize that I am more deeply connected to lesswrong (or the LW-osphere) than I'd previously realized. Up 'til now, I'd thought of myself as an outsider, more or less on the periphery of this community. But evidently I've absorbed enough of its memeplex to be several steps of inference away from an intelligent non-rationalist-identifying community. It also made me more grateful for certain norms which exist here and which I had otherwise gotten to take for granted: curiosity and a genuine interest in learning the truth, and (usually) courtesy to those with dissenting views.
Comment author: Viliam_Bur 29 July 2014 07:45:59AM 16 points [-]

Here is how to win the argument:

Create another nickname, pretending to be a Native American woman. Say that the idea of precommitment to exercise reminds you that in the ancient times the hunters of your tribe believed that it is spiritually important to be fit. (Then the white people came and ruined everything.) If anyone disagrees with you, act emotional and tell them to check their privilege.

The only problem is that winning in this way is a lost purpose. Unless you consider it expanding your communication skills.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 29 July 2014 07:18:30AM 13 points [-]

Website suggestion: Retracted comments should collapse the thread (just like downvoted comments do now).

Comment author: shminux 28 July 2014 03:45:16PM 1 point [-]

Uh, this was meant as a half-joke, and apparently it wasn't very successful. Anyway, this is a wrong thread to discuss the health of the forum. And no, I don't think that Eliezer has any public duty to the forum readers, if you were wondering. I was simply commenting on his disengagement, quite likely for very good reasons (like that he has a lot more useful feedback on FB).

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 29 July 2014 06:48:19AM 1 point [-]

I apologize for my too strong reaction and for derailing the thread.

Comment author: palladias 28 July 2014 02:51:22PM 9 points [-]

I am amused to report that this post was fuel for a non-allegorical nightmare for me last night. In my dream, the martians, united, were convinced humans must also have two stages of development, and did some kind of spore-related experiments on us, trying to trigger this second stage. Cue zombies.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 29 July 2014 06:35:31AM 1 point [-]

What would the zombies correspond to in the original analogy? :D

Comment author: Azathoth123 29 July 2014 02:39:37AM 2 points [-]

Patriarchy has given 90% of men and 100% of women a raw deal.

Would this be the same patriarchy that build civilization, developed science, etc.?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 29 July 2014 06:27:47AM *  2 points [-]

That alone doesn't prove that civilization and science weren't developed in a hypothetical parallel universe without patriarchy. It is an evidence, but I am not sure how strong.

Generally, if we have X everywhere, it is difficult to say whether all things that happened, happened because of X, despite X, or regardless of X. Things happening "because of" should happen with greater probability, or sooner, and things happening "despite" should happen with smaller probability, or later... but if we have X for millenia, even the "later" happens eventually.

In a similar way, I have seen people attributing to Christianity everything that happened in Europe since 0 AD. Is that fair or not? Sometimes we can use China as a control group. In case of patriarchy, we don't have such "China". (And no, very small indigenous tribes aren't a good control group. There are differences in population size, access to resources, etc.)

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