Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 06 October 2015 02:54:16AM *  19 points [-]

Advancedatheist is flagrantly abusing the voting system. How can this be addressed/reported/stopped?

I literally saw a long post of his in this open thread, nearly-universally downvoted to -10, rise to 0 in 3 minutes just now.

EDIT: An additional 7 upwards in 5 minutes as I made this post, contemporaneous with a blast of +7 on another of his posts.

Seriously, how can his constant trolling be stopped? He is hurting discussion and he's been at this for quite some time, I've seen this happen over and over again for more than a year and I'm sick of it.

Comment author: advancedatheist 06 October 2015 04:13:33AM 3 points [-]

I haven't done anything to "abuse" the voting system, and you should retract your accusation because you have no evidence of that. I don't understand how my posts can gain so many upvotes in such a short time.

Comment author: advancedatheist 05 October 2015 03:30:24PM *  -2 points [-]

I haven't seen The Martian yet, but I find the reviews of it interesting. Why would a robinsonade set on another planet appeal so strongly to people, and especially now?

Well, we can feel the spiritual sickness of living in our world full of parasites and thought police. You have to learn how to manipulate people and keep careful control over what you say and do around them so that you can have a tolerable life - and you don't have access to the most elite people who have the most power over our whole society, like, say, Federal Reserve bankers.

By contrast, it feels more natural and healthier for us to extract our sustenance from nature directly through the use of our own minds and hands, where you don't have to play these ridiculous mind games with idiots. Our ancestors repeatedly had to solve survival challenges posed by new environments and situations by doing their version of "sciencing the shit out of them," and today's movie audiences seem to respond to that by seeing it in a science fictional context.

This could also explain the popularity of those admittedly staged "survival" series on cable, along with the reality series which show blue collar guys working on commercial fishing boats, in logging camps or in gunsmithing shops. We know that we live largely in a simulacrum of reality, especially with all this social-justice make-believe, and the knowledge has become a splinter in our minds.

Comment author: ike 01 October 2015 08:10:14PM 2 points [-]

Are there any known deaths due to Quantum suicide experiments? Conversely, are there any known survivals in such experiments? (We should presumably not expect the latter for large odds of death, but just want the question to be complete.)

Comment author: advancedatheist 02 October 2015 04:09:53AM 0 points [-]
Comment author: advancedatheist 01 October 2015 04:07:30PM 5 points [-]

Transhumanism sounds like all fun and games now. But wait until an enhanced woman goes into the mountains, creates an ice castle with her superpowers and plunges the world into endless winter.

Comment author: advancedatheist 30 September 2015 11:37:37PM 5 points [-]

Dante Alighieri, De Monarchia:

Ineffable Providence has thus designed two ends to be contemplated of man: first, the happiness of this life, which consists in the activity of his natural powers, and is prefigured by the terrestrial Paradise; and then the blessedness of life everlasting, which consists in the enjoyment of the countenance of God, to which man’s natural powers may not attain unless aided by divine light, and which may be symbolized by the celestial Paradise.

Comment author: advancedatheist 30 September 2015 05:22:22PM *  3 points [-]

From Augustine's Confessions, Book 11:

What now is clear and plain is, that neither things to come nor past are. Nor is it properly said, "there be three times, past, present, and to come": yet perchance it might be properly said, "there be three times; a present of things past, a present of things present, and a present of things future." For these three do exist in some sort, in the soul, but otherwhere do I not see them; present of things past, memory; present of things present, sight; present of things future, expectation.

The man who spoke at my high school graduation (East Central High School in Tulsa, Class of '78) actually quoted this passage of Augustine's in his speech, which I remember as part of my present of things past. Unfortunately I have forgotten the speaker's name.

Comment author: bogus 24 September 2015 10:04:50PM -1 points [-]

Roosh has posted and said lately that he doesn't enjoy his sexual conquests as much as he used to

Yup, that's pretty normal. People tend to pursue casual flings out of a desire for sheer novelty, and plenty of them start pursuing longer-term goals after that desire is fulfilled. This is one reason why the widespread fear that casual sex might "ruin" folks and deprive them of any enjoyment of long-term relationships is almost certainly misguided.

Comment author: advancedatheist 25 September 2015 04:13:00PM *  -2 points [-]

Actually we have empirical evidence that women's premarital sexual adventures damage their ability to form stable marriages:

http://socialpathology.blogspot.com/2010/08/defining-slut.html

When our allegedly unenlightened ancestors shamed sluts, shunned bastard kids and married their daughters off as young virgins, it turns out that they knew their business after all.

BTW, I find it curious that at least some of us consider paleonutrition a guide towards a modern healthy diet, but then turn around and call paleocognition bad names like "cognitive biases."

Comment author: Lumifer 24 September 2015 06:16:44PM *  2 points [-]

Are there any indications that Roosh is interested in religion or high-end spirituality? If anything, I'd expect him to go not Augustine, but Ecclesiastes.

Comment author: advancedatheist 25 September 2015 04:06:52PM 0 points [-]

Roosh has posted essays about the classical literature he has read and thought about, which shows an openness to a philosophical view of life. That can overlap with spiritual thinking to some extent.

Comment author: advancedatheist 24 September 2015 08:34:41PM *  -2 points [-]

Brave New World, Chapter 17:

ART, SCIENCE–you seem to have paid a fairly high price for your happiness," said the Savage, when they were alone. "Anything else?"

"Well, religion, of course," replied the Controller. "There used to be something called God–before the Nine Years' War. But I was forgetting; you know all about God, I suppose."

"Well …" The Savage hesitated. He would have liked to say something about solitude, about night, about the mesa lying pale under the moon, about the precipice, the plunge into shadowy darkness, about death. He would have liked to speak; but there were no words. Not even in Shakespeare.

The Controller, meanwhile, had crossed to the other side of the room and was unlocking a large safe set into the wall between the bookshelves. The heavy door swung open. Rummaging in the darkness within, "It's a subject," he said, "that has always had a great interest for me." He pulled out a thick black volume. "You've never read this, for example."

The Savage took it. "The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments," he read aloud from the title-page. "Nor this." It was a small book and had lost its cover.

"The Imitation of Christ."

"Nor this." He handed out another volume.

"The Varieties of Religious Experience. By William James."

"And I've got plenty more," Mustapha Mond continued, resuming his seat. "A whole collection of pornographic old books. God in the safe and Ford on the shelves." He pointed with a laugh to his avowed library–to the shelves of books, the rack full of reading-machine bobbins and sound-track rolls.

"But if you know about God, why don't you tell them?" asked the Savage indignantly. "Why don't you give them these books about God?"

"For the same reason as we don't give them Othello: they're old; they're about God hundreds of years ago. Not about God now."

"But God doesn't change."

"Men do, though."

"What difference does that make?"

"All the difference in the world," said Mustapha Mond. He got up again and walked to the safe. "There was a man called Cardinal Newman," he said. "A cardinal," he exclaimed parenthetically, "was a kind of Arch-Community-Songster."

"'I Pandulph, of fair Milan, cardinal.' I've read about them in Shakespeare."

"Of course you have. Well, as I was saying, there was a man called Cardinal Newman. Ah, here's the book." He pulled it out. "And while I'm about it I'll take this one too. It's by a man called Maine de Biran. He was a philosopher, if you know what that was."

"A man who dreams of fewer things than there are in heaven and earth," said the Savage promptly.

"Quite so. I'll read you one of the things he did dream of in a moment. Meanwhile, listen to what this old Arch-Community-Songster said." He opened the book at the place marked by a slip of paper and began to read. "'We are not our own any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves, we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are not our own masters. We are God's property. Is it not our happiness thus to view the matter? Is it any happiness or any comfort, to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous. These may think it a great thing to have everything, as they suppose, their own way–to depend on no one–to have to think of nothing out of sight, to be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgment, continual prayer, continual reference of what they do to the will of another. But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find that independence was not made for man–that it is an unnatural state–will do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end …'" Mustapha Mond paused, put down the first book and, picking up the other, turned over the pages. "Take this, for example," he said, and in his deep voice once more began to read: "'A man grows old; he feels in himself that radical sense of weakness, of listlessness, of discomfort, which accompanies the advance of age; and, feeling thus, imagines himself merely sick, lulling his fears with the notion that this distressing condition is due to some particular cause, from which, as from an illness, he hopes to recover. Vain imaginings! That sickness is old age; and a horrible disease it is. They say that it is the fear of death and of what comes after death that makes men turn to religion as they advance in years. But my own experience has given me the conviction that, quite apart from any such terrors or imaginings, the religious sentiment tends to develop as we grow older; to develop because, as the passions grow calm, as the fancy and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason becomes less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed; whereupon God emerges as from behind a cloud; our soul feels, sees, turns towards the source of all light; turns naturally and inevitably; for now that all that gave to the world of sensations its life and charms has begun to leak away from us, now that phenomenal existence is no more bolstered up by impressions from within or from without, we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false–a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God; for this religious sentiment is of its nature so pure, so delightful to the soul that experiences it, that it makes up to us for all our other losses.'" Mustapha Mond shut the book and leaned back in his chair. "One of the numerous things in heaven and earth that these philosophers didn't dream about was this" (he waved his hand), "us, the modern world. 'You can only be independent of God while you've got youth and prosperity; independence won't take you safely to the end.' Well, we've now got youth and prosperity right up to the end. What follows? Evidently, that we can be independent of God. 'The religious sentiment will compensate us for all our losses.' But there aren't any losses for us to compensate; religious sentiment is superfluous. And why should we go hunting for a substitute for youthful desires, when youthful desires never fail? A substitute for distractions, when we go on enjoying all the old fooleries to the very last? What need have we of repose when our minds and bodies continue to delight in activity? of consolation, when we have soma? of something immovable, when there is the social order?"

"Then you think there is no God?"

"No, I think there quite probably is one."

"Then why? …"

Mustapha Mond checked him. "But he manifests himself in different ways to different men. In premodern times he manifested himself as the being that's described in these books. Now …"

"How does he manifest himself now?" asked the Savage.

"Well, he manifests himself as an absence; as though he weren't there at all."

Comment author: advancedatheist 24 September 2015 06:09:59PM 3 points [-]

I have a casual interest in religious conversion as an empirical psychological phenomenon. The philosopher William James makes the case for studying religious experience empirically in one of his books published over a century ago - The Varieties of Religious Experience - so the idea has circulated for quite a while.

I think we might have an example of an internet figure undergoing an Augustinian sort of spiritual crisis documented online, namely the pickup artist Roosh Valizadeh. Roosh has posted and said lately that he doesn't enjoy his sexual conquests as much as he used to. Just the other day he posted "Junk Food Sex," where he recounts his reaction to one his Polish pickups:

http://www.rooshv.com/junk-food-sex

Early in the summer I met a Polish girl on a weekend night. I convinced her to have a drink with me in a different bar and then two hours later I invited her back to my place. We had sex all night long. I had four orgasms with her, and each one felt immensely pleasurable, but the following day I had a weird feeling, almost as if I did something wrong. I ignored this feeling and contacted her again one week later. She returned to my apartment, and during the sex act I felt powerful bodily satisfaction. While I was laying my strokes inside her, I savored the fact that I could sleep with a girl 13 years younger than myself, but after my orgasm completed, and our bodies remained still, the same negative feeling came forth within me.

Now, this sounds familiar if you have read autobiographical accounts of religious conversions, like the ones quoted in James's study. And especially if you have read Augustine's Confessions, where Augustine after having several sexual relationships in his youth, famously prays, "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet," because he feels the conflict between his waning sexual desires and his growing "spiritual" yearnings in his middle age.

If Roosh does "go Augustine" on us after his youth of debauchery, I will find that fascinating to observe.

View more: Next