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Comment author: shokwave 29 January 2012 04:27:20AM *  0 points [-]

It's Politics is the Mind-Killer, i.e., politics kills the mind, politics is a killer of minds. So it should be Comment-Thread-Exploder, because politics would explode the thread, politics would be an exploder of threads. Good catch.

For reference, the grandparent originally used the phrase "Politics is the Make-Comment-Threads-Exploder".

Comment author: bio_logical 28 October 2013 05:37:50AM 0 points [-]

I'm interested to know what rational people should have done in 1930 Germany to prevent politics from killing minds there. Is there a general consensus here on that issue?

I mean, if ever there were an issue worthy of rational prioritization, I would think that the construction of deathcamps and the herding of people into them, should be prioritized. How might one rationally prioritize one's actions in that type of situation?

I honestly would like to know if there's a "non-mind-killing" approach possible in such a situation.

If the answer is not "political engagement" or "attempting to exert influence at the ballot box," and the answer is not "urge people you love to leave Germany," and the answer is not "buy black market firearms and join the resistance," and the answer is not "roll over on your back and bear your belly in submission," and the answer is not "mind-killing political discussion," then I'd like to know what a rational course of action is in that type of situation.

I ask this question for purely narrow, purely selfish reasons. I am now holding approximately equal numbers of federal reserve notes and one-ounce gold pieces and silver pieces, and I can't help but notice that every year I hold the notes, they are worth less and less, in relation to the gold and silver. Since 1970, I've lost money on the notes, and gained money on the gold and silver. Is there any rational principle at work here? Am I being stolen from, or am I simply not lucky? Is there any sort of system I should adopt?

What course of action is most rational? And how can I decide without engaging in mind-killing thought? I'm really trying to minimize the mind-killing thoughts, and other crime-think. The last thing I'd like to be is a filthy mind-killed (brain dead?) crime-thinker.

Also, for those not wanting to dirty themselves by replying to political threads (presumably because they're building strong AGI, which is a seriously better use of their time), how and why would ANY thread other than a recruitment thread for computer scientists and engineers be a good use of one's time?

Sorry for exploding this thread. Mea culpa!

Comment author: thomblake 26 January 2012 07:28:28PM 3 points [-]

To echo Alejandro1, downvotes should also go to comments which break the rules.

Comment author: bio_logical 28 October 2013 05:12:26AM -2 points [-]

“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

(There's no way to break the rule on posting too fast. That's one I'd break. Because yeah, we ought not to be able to come close to thinking as fast as our hands can type. What a shame that would be. ...Or can a well-filtered internet forum --which prides itself on being well-filtered-- have "too much information")

Comment author: TheOtherDave 27 January 2012 01:19:47AM 1 point [-]

I agree that good, well-reasoned comments don't merit downvotes, even if I disagree with the position they support. I agree that merely unpopular opinions don't merit downvotes. I agree that low-quality comments in line with the LW party line don't merit upvotes. I agree that merely popular opinions don't merit upvotes. I agree that voting is there to encourage and discourage some kinds of comments.

What's your position on downvoting a neither-spectacularly-well-or-poorly-written comment expressing an idea that's simply false?

Comment author: bio_logical 28 October 2013 05:02:23AM -1 points [-]

An idea that's false but "spectacularly well-written" should be downvoted to the extent of its destructiveness. Stupidity (the tendency toward unwitting self-destruction) is what we're trying to avoid here, right? We're trying to avoid losing. Willful ignorance of the truth is an especially damaging form of stupidity.

Two highly intelligent people will not likely come to a completely different and antithetical viewpoint if both are reasonably intelligent. Thus, the very well-written but false viewpoint is far more damaging than the clearly stupid false viewpoint. If this site helps people avoid damaging their property (their brain, their bodies, their material possessions), or minimizes systemic damage to those things, then it's more highly functional, and the value is apparent even to casual observers.

Such a value is sure to be adopted and become "market standard." That seems like the best possible outcome, to me.

So, if a comment is seemingly very well-reasoned, but false, it will actually help to expand irrationality. Moreover, it's more costly to address the idea, because it "seems legit." Thus, to not sound like a jerk, you have to expend energy on politeness and form that could normally be spent on addressing substance.

HIV tricks the body into believing it's harmless by continually changing and "living to fight another day." If it was a more obvious threat, it would be identified and killed. I'd rather have a sudden flu that makes me clearly sick, but that my body successfully kills, than HIV that allows me to seem fine, but slowly kills me in 10 years. The well-worded but false argument is like a virus that slips past your body's defenses or neutralizes them. That's worse than a clearly dangerous poison because it isn't obviously dangerous.

False ideas are most dangerous when they seem to be true. Moreover, such ideas won't seem to be true to smart people. It's enough for them to seem true to 51% of voters.

If 51% of voters can't find fault with a false idea, it can be as damaging as "the state should own and control all property." Result: millions murdered (and we still dare not talk about it, lest we be accused of being "mind killed" or "rooting for team A to the detriment of team B" --as if avoiding mass murder weren't enough of a reason for rooting for a properly-identified "right team").

Now, what if there's a reasonable disagreement, from people who know differen things? Then evidence should be presented, and the final winner should become clear, or a vital area where further study is needed can be identified.

If reality is objective, but humans are highly subjective creatures due to limited brain (neocortex) size, then argument is a good way to make progress toward a Lesswrong site that exhibits emergent intelligence.

I think that's a good way to use the site. I would prefer to have my interactions with this site lead me to undiscovered truths. If absolutely everyone here believes in the "zero universes" theory, then I'll watch more "Google tech talks" and read more white papers on the subject, allocating more of my time to comprehending it. If everyone here says it's a toss-up between that and the multiverse theory, or "NOTA.," I might allocate my time to an entirely different and "more likely to yield results" subject.

In any case, there is an objective reality that all of us share "common ground" with. Thus, false arguments that appear well reasoned are always poorly-reasoned, to some extent. They are always a combination of thousands of variables. Upranking or downranking is a means for indicating which variables we think are more important, and which ones we think are true or false.

The goal should always be an optimal outcome, including an optimal prioritization.

If you have the best recipe ever for a stevia-sweetened milkshake, and your argument is true, valid, good, and I make the milkshake and I think it's the best thing ever, and it contains other healthy ingredients that I think will help me live longer, then that's a rational goal. I'm drinking something tasty, and living longer, etc. However, if I downvote a comment because I don't want Lesswrong to turn into a recipe-posting board, that might be more rational.

What's the greatest purpose to which a tool can be used? True, I can use my pistol to hammer in nails, but if I do that, and I eventually need a pistol to defend my life, I might not have it, due to years of abuse or "sub-optimal use." Also, if I survive attacks against me, I can buy a hammer.

A Lesswrong "upvote" contains an approximation of all of that. Truth, utility, optimality, prioritization, importance, relevance to community, etc. Truth is a kind of utility. If we didn't care about utility, we might discuss purely provincial interests. However: Lesswrong is interested in eliminating bad thinking, and it thus makes sense to start with the worst of thinking around which there is the least "wiggle room."

If I have facial hair (or am gay), Ayn Rand followers might not like me. Ayn Rand often defended capitalism. By choosing to distance herself from people over their facial hair, she failed to prioritize her views rationally, and to perceive how others would shape her views into a cult through their extended lack of proper prioritization. So, in some ways, Rand, (like the still worse Reagan) helped to delegitimize capitalism. Still, if you read what she wrote about capitalism, she was 100% right, and if you read what she wrote about facial hair, she was 100% superficial and doltish. So, on an Ayn Rand forum, if someone begins defending Rand's disapproval of facial hair, I might point out that in 2006 the USA experienced a systemic shock to its fiat currency system, and try to direct the conversation to more important matters.

I might also suggest leaving the discussions of facial hair to Western wear discussion boards.

It's vital to ALWAYS include an indication of how important a subject is. That's how marketplaces of ideas focus their trading.

Comment author: TimS 27 January 2012 12:13:44AM 3 points [-]

First, that's not the metaphor we were discussing. Second, the metaphor you are using allows arguments to be soldiers of any ideology, not simply democracy.

Comment author: bio_logical 28 October 2013 02:39:09AM -2 points [-]

Are some ideologies more objectively correct than others? (Abolitionists used ostracism and violence to prevail against those who would return fugitive slaves south. Up until the point of violence, many of their arguments were "soldiers." One such "soldier" was Spooner's "The Unconstitutionality of Slavery" --from the same man who later wrote "the Constitution of No Authority." He personally believed that the Constitution had no authority, but since it was revered by many conformists, he used a reference to it to show them that they should alter their position to support of abolitionism. Good for him!)

If some ideologies are more correct than others, then those arguments which are actually soldiers for those ideologies have strategic utility, but only as strategic "talking points," "soldiers," or "sticky" memes. Then, everyone who agrees with using those soldiers can identify them as such (strategy), and decide whether it's a good strategic or philosophical, argument, or both, or neither.

Comment author: Ian_C. 01 January 2008 08:42:06AM 2 points [-]

One advantage of the Two Party Swindle is that swing-voters usually decide an election. That is, the small percent of people who don’t fall for Us vs. Them.

So though it may be designed to distract the populace while their purse is being lightened, the Swindle also results in the more unbiased voter having more influence (even though on paper it’s still one man, one vote).

Comment author: bio_logical 17 October 2013 07:43:33PM 0 points [-]

This is known as Duverger's law. Bryan Caplan explains why it fails, here.

Comment author: bio_logical 17 October 2013 07:37:32PM *  -1 points [-]

But that's not even the important question. Forget that Congresspeople on both sides of the "divide" are more likely to be lawyers than truck drivers.

The "lawyers" filter is just one of many filters put in place by sociopaths to favor sociopaths. Another such filter that was fought bitterly by Lysander Spooner was the licensing of lawyers (the licensing of lawyers has brought all lawyers under the power of judges, who are almost always bar-licensed ex-prosecutors). Before 1832 in Ohio, lawyers weren't licensed. Spooner overturned the licensing of lawyers in 1836, but then it came back when he died.

It's a huge benefit to the cause of consolidated power ("unquestionable tyranny") be able to say "you can't defend true justice unless you have a license, and we control the license." Ultimately, this isn't for any grand scheme, other than "we get to steal most of what you make, if we hold political power."

If sociopaths make the laws and have a general predisposition to "never interfere with another sociopath who is trying to grow the overall size or scope of government power" then you start to see how sociopaths can consolidate power, even if there is no overt "conspiracy." Of course, there are several actual conspiracies: the plan to profit from trading carbon credits was one of them, the Federal Reserve system was and remains another. The people who run those institutions have pocketed billions of dollars by creating them, and maintaining control of them.

If I can pay you $85,000,000,000 to protect a drug running ring, then the drug laws don't apply to me. Then, consider the fact that if I do that, I can steal another $100,000,000,000 per year by maintaining a prison industrial complex that imprisons millions of people unjustly. This means that I can be a complete self-serving hypocrite, dominate everyone else, and not be dominated myself. It doesn't matter whether you would do such a thing, if you had power (you probably would, unless you're a modern Spooner or Thoreau-type). The kind of people who have that sort of power have instituted precisely that kind of system.

Those who benefit from it don't need to support it to maintain it. It maintains itself, once it's set in motion. Since it's not a threat to them, they tolerate or even encourage it.

Getting emotional over politics as though it were a sports game - identifying with one color and screaming cheers for them, while heaping abuse on the other color's fans - is a very good thing for the Professional Players' Team; not so much for Team Voters.

What evidence do you have for this? Let's test your theory against the evidence: The abolitionists were most successful when they used (emotional, moral appeals) or (dispassionate, pragmatic appeals)? I think that Douglass's speeches contain your answer.

Also, what kind of monstrous idiot or jerk would you have been considered if you called yourself an abolitionist in the days of abolitionism, but weren't an abolitionist?

If you believe your philosophy is correct, then you owe it to your philosophy to learn how to win. Unless the suffering of innocents is unimportant to you, in which case your philosophy has nothing to say about morality.

Comment author: MugaSofer 19 January 2013 02:53:20PM 1 point [-]

If you mean that some people choose poorly or are simply unlucky, yes.

If you mean that some people are Evil and so take Evil actions, then ... well, yes, I suppose, psychopaths. But most Bad Consequences do not reflect some inherent deformity of the soul, which is all I'm saying.

Classifying people as Bad is not helpful. Classifying people as Dangerous ... is. My only objection is turning people into Evil Mutants - which the comment I originally replied to was doing. ("Bad Things are done by Bad People who deserve to be punished.")

Comment author: bio_logical 17 October 2013 06:07:50PM 0 points [-]

If you mean that some people are Evil and so take Evil actions, then ... well, yes, I suppose, psychopaths. But most Bad Consequences do not reflect some inherent deformity of the soul, which is all I'm saying.

I'd prefer to leave "the soul" out of this.

How do you know that most bad consequences don't involve sociopaths or their influence? It seems unlikely that that's not the case, to me.

Also, don't forget conformists who obey sociopaths. Franz Stangl said he felt "weak in the knees" when he was pushing gas chamber doors shut on a group of women and kids. ...But he did it anyway.

Wagner gleefully killed women and kids.

Yet, we also rightfully call Stangl an evil person, and rightfully punish him, even though he was "Just following orders." In hindsight, even his claims that the democide of over 6 million Jews and 10 million German dissidents and dissenters was solely for theft and without racist motivations, doesn't make me want to punish him less.