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

Comment author: Nornagest 14 April 2014 11:23:19PM *  1 point [-]

It's not unheard of for people who've recently tried various substances to nonetheless support stricter restrictions on them. The usual narrative goes something like "I can handle this, but there are lots of people that can't, and we have to keep it out of their hands", though the people in question vary -- drawing class, demographic, or cognitive lines is common.

There can be other ulterior motives, too. In the early 2000s, a few marijuana growers in Northern California were among the opponents of a ballot proposition that would have legalized it in the state -- because legalization was expected to harm their profit margins, doing more damage than than removing the chance of arrest would have made up for.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 15 April 2014 04:29:35AM *  0 points [-]

The usual narrative goes something like "I can handle this, but there are lots of people that can't, and we have to keep it out of their hands", though the people in question vary -- drawing class, demographic, or cognitive lines is common.

Or, alternately, "It was a mistake for me to do it, and I was lucky to get away without punishment, but legalizing would encourage other people to make the same mistake." I seem to recall a few U.S. politicians on both sides of the aisle saying things of this nature.

Comment author: Jiro 13 April 2014 05:54:07PM *  4 points [-]

The point is that decades ago, illegal substance use was popular among people of college age. Yet as those people grew up, they stopped using the substances and did not, once they were in power, try to make them legal. I'm not comparing young people today versus older people today, I'm pointing out that all those marijuana smokers from the 1960's and 1970's didn't grow up and legalize pot. I'm sure back then if you went onto a college campus you'd have heard plenty of sentiment of "when the old fogies die off and we're running the country, we'll legalize weed". The old fogies died off; the people from the 60s and 70s grew up to rule the country, and... it didn't happen.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 14 April 2014 07:44:56AM 0 points [-]

The peak year for the popularity of marijuana use among young adults (18-25 years old) was 1979, and it was still less than half.

Comment author: ChristianKl 13 April 2014 09:18:01PM *  0 points [-]

Oh yes, they certainly did. I take it, you approve of these efforts?

That question indicates being mindkilled. I happen to be able to discuss issues like that without treating arguments as soldiers.

Discussing cause and effects is hard enough as it is without involving notions of approval or disapproval.

The implication that somehow socialism isn't responsible for spreading atheism in Europe because socialist used some immoral technique is a conflation of moral beliefs with beliefs about reality.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 14 April 2014 07:21:31AM *  0 points [-]

It seems to me that you two are talking past each other. Here's what I hear:

ChristianKI: "Socialist movements and governments did successfully promote atheism and materialism in the populations of Europe. This is why Europeans do not tend to believe, as Americans do, that atheists are incapable of being moral." (This is a descriptive claim about history and public opinion.)

Lumifer: "We should not advocate socialism as a way of promoting atheism and materialism, because socialism is awful and Marxist ideas of historical progress are silly." (This is a normative claim about advocacy.)

Comment author: JoshuaFox 11 April 2014 08:02:10AM *  0 points [-]

Yes, but some people praise the book itself as utterly exceptional. Atlas Shrugged may introduce people to Objectivism, but even the fanatics who praise the ideas in it don't praise it as literature.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 13 April 2014 04:48:15AM 5 points [-]

"Atlas Shrugged is the greatest novel that has ever been written, in my judgment, so let's let it go at that."
— Nathaniel Branden, quoted in a 1971 interview in Reason magazine.

Comment author: ChristianKl 08 April 2014 07:31:08PM 1 point [-]

Anothe explanation would be that they had too much monetary incentives. Jimmy makes money with Wikia and when the person who wants to write his article about his favorite Pokemon goes to Wikia because it's not allowed on Wikipedia that's in Jimmy's financial interest.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 09 April 2014 09:39:00AM 0 points [-]

It's my understanding that Jimbo is not even allowed a corporate credit card from the Wikimedia Foundation these days. Editorial policy is created by editors, not by the Foundation, and not by Jimbo Wales.

Comment author: Metus 08 April 2014 05:28:45PM 1 point [-]

The German Wikipedia is notorius for deleting articles because of "lack of encyclopedic relevance".

Comment author: fubarobfusco 09 April 2014 09:37:08AM 2 points [-]

In English Wikipedia this is called "deletionism". Although I'm not a huge fan of it, deletionism has had its successes, when seen in a wider context — namely the creation of many, many more wikis on the Web than existed when Wikipedia was new.

For instance, there were once Wikipedia articles for each creature in the Pokémon games. This was a source of some mockery. Today, those articles have been deleted from Wikipedia, and replaced with short summaries in list articles. instead today there is a whole dedicated Pokémon fan-wiki, "Bulbapedia", with a lot more information relevant to game players than would ever make sense in a general encyclopedia.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 08 April 2014 03:47:21PM 8 points [-]

What's happened with Wikipedia probably can be characterized better as "saturation" than "decline". If you satisfy your entire market, you stop growing.


Comment author: Lumifer 07 April 2014 03:00:44PM 1 point [-]

Literacy was not a necessity for most people two thousand years ago; it is a necessity for most people today. Will programming ever become that sort of necessity?

That was the thinking at the dawn of personal computing, back in the 80s.

Turns out the answer is "no".

Comment author: fubarobfusco 08 April 2014 03:46:14AM 0 points [-]

Computing hasn't even existed for a century yet. Give it time.

There will come a day when ordinary educated folks quicksort their playing cards when they want to put them in order. :)

Comment author: FiftyTwo 07 April 2014 05:04:10PM 4 points [-]

There's a rhetorical technique called "dubitatio" - where you deliberately act unsure, less skilled or less intelligent in order to make yourself sound more credible. E.g. "Although I'm just a simple man unused to public speaking I think...." Obviously it depends on the audience you're appealing to, it works best with people who mistrust skilled orators

(George W Bush did this a lot, his famous 'Bushisms' were almost all deliberate, and playe to a base who distrusted 'elites' and made him sound more honest and down to earth.)

Comment author: fubarobfusco 08 April 2014 01:07:49AM -1 points [-]

Sounds like the evil twin of the Socratic Method.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 07 April 2014 08:02:20AM *  5 points [-]

Apparently one reason that the famous "419 Scam" spammers write such illiterate and instantly-recognizable spam email is that this serves to filter out all but the most gullible recipients. By writing badly and unconvincingly, they ensure that more of the people who actually respond are gullible enough to be pulled in to the scam. Because it's cheap to send out millions of copies of a spam email, they have a strong incentive to minimize the number of responses that aren't good leads.

Are there other cases where someone might do a deliberately bad job at convincing people of a falsehood, in order to filter for the most gullible or susceptible marks?

View more: Next