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Comment author: sbenthall 21 October 2014 12:10:24AM 0 points [-]

Do you think that rationalism is becoming a religion, or should become one?

Comment author: fubarobfusco 21 October 2014 11:52:02PM 0 points [-]

"Religion" means too many different things. To a sociologist, religion is not just a creed, it's a social behavior; it's something people do, not only something they believe. People get together and do various things together, which they explain in various terms — a Zen Buddhist meditation session doesn't look very much like a High Church service, except that both involve a lot of people in a hall together.

Comment author: hyporational 15 October 2014 03:40:28AM *  -1 points [-]

What fields are mathematically based, other than physics and evolutionary biology, and economics?

Pretty much every field uses some math except maybe social science, political science, history, languages and literature. I think the most commonly (mis?)used math would belong in the realm of statistics.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 15 October 2014 05:26:47AM 6 points [-]

Pretty much every field uses some math except maybe social science, political science, history, languages and literature.

Statistics was invented for social science, especially political and demographic studies; hence the name.

Comment author: solipsist 12 October 2014 07:16:28PM 3 points [-]

Admitting to taking medication for treatment of a mental condition can be very bad for your career. If these questions are asked, the results should be segregated from other columns to prevent deanonymization.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 12 October 2014 11:33:32PM 1 point [-]

Admitting to taking illegal drugs can be, too. Some forms of prejudice are even more institutionalized than others.

Comment author: DataPacRat 11 October 2014 07:29:44AM *  4 points [-]

What is your preferred relationship style?

No explicit option for asexual and/or aromantic? (Or whatever the term would be for preferring not to be in a relationship, as opposed to not having a preference.)

Please answer on a scale from 0% (definitely false) to 100% (definitely true). For your convenience, 0% will be interpreted as "epsilon" and 100% as "100 minus epsilon".

For estimated probabilities that are greater than 99%, or less than 1%, how many digits of accuracy do you wish the answer to be? Just jump straight from 99% to 100%, or go for 99.999999% if that's honestly the best estimate?

What is the probability that any of humankind's revealed religions is more or less correct?

I find this slightly unclear; does 'atheistic Buddhism' count as a 'revealed religion'?

Comment author: fubarobfusco 11 October 2014 09:55:29PM 1 point [-]

I find this slightly unclear; does 'atheistic Buddhism' count as a 'revealed religion'?

Probably not. "Revealed religion" means something like "religion whose teachings are based on revelations from the divine to mankind". If you think that your religion was figured out, discovered, or intuited by a human being rather than delivered to him or her by the gods or spirits, it's not a "revealed religion".

Yes, this means Scientology is not a "revealed religion", because they think Hubbard discovered it. (Scientology is, however, a mystery religion, meaning that it has inner and outer teachings.)

Comment author: grouchymusicologist 11 October 2014 03:23:07PM 2 points [-]

On "Profession," the field label "Art" is vague. Better would be "Arts and humanities."

Comment author: fubarobfusco 11 October 2014 09:45:28PM 3 points [-]

"Humanities" includes philosophy, language, and religion; and sometimes history and law, too!

I think what is meant in the survey is specifically the creation of art, e.g. design, sculpture, music, theater, fiction, and so on.

It should be clarified, though.

Comment author: Elo 11 October 2014 03:52:21PM 0 points [-]

Why not use the Kinsey sex scale for sexual orientation? (really depends on what you want to gather out of this information)

A split question of whether your children are biologically related to you or just children you are raising.

Allow multiple options (checkboxes) for work-status, and profession.

I have seen "education level" as highest level completed; but it doesn't take into account highest level incomplete. so where I might be part of a bachelors, I could not say so because I have not yet completed it. Perhaps a level of "highest education not yet completed"

An option of "other" for political view

Allow multiple (checkboxes) for referrals.

an option to skip the probabilities section. and submit the survey without participating in that part.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 11 October 2014 09:38:53PM 0 points [-]

Why not use the Kinsey sex scale for sexual orientation? (really depends on what you want to gather out of this information)

Good idea. There are even more detailed scales, such as the Klein grid.

Comment author: Princess_Stargirl 11 October 2014 06:06:15PM *  8 points [-]

I would personally be interested in more detailed drug use questions. Examplae. In the Past year have you taken:

-Modafinil

-Amphetamine (of any sort including Adderall)

-Heroine/Other Opiates (not prescribed by a doctor as a painkiller) -Marijuanna

-Hallucinogens (LSD/DMT/Psychobillin)

-Testosterone/HGH (if you took testosterone because you are transexual do not click yes)

Maybe there is a better list of drugs?

Comment author: fubarobfusco 11 October 2014 09:35:37PM 2 points [-]

Let's see ...

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine
  • Cannabis (marijuana, hashish, hash oil, Marinol, etc.)
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines (including Adderall)
  • Eugeroics (wakefulness drugs — modafinil and its ilk)
  • Sedatives (e.g. benzodiazepines including Valium, Klonopin)
  • Hypnotics (sleep drugs, e.g. Ambien, Lunesta)
  • Opiates (heroin, morphine, oxycodone)
  • Psychedelics (LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, DMT)
  • Dissociatives (DXM, ketamine, nitrous oxide)
  • Deliriants (belladonna, brugmansia, datura)
  • Entactogens (MDMA, etc.)
  • Medical antidepressants (SSRIs, etc.)
  • Herbal antidepressants (St. John's wort, ashwagandha, rhodiola)
  • Serotonin precursors (L-tryptophan, 5-HTP)
  • GABA-β agonists (phenibut, gabapentin)
  • Antipsychotics
  • Aphrodisiacs (yohimbine, etc.)
  • Vasodilators (Viagra, amyl nitrite, etc.)
Comment author: shminux 09 October 2014 05:54:25PM *  3 points [-]

I've seen Chesterton's quote used or misused in ways that assume that an extant fence must have some use that is both ① still existent, and ② beneficial; and that it can only be cleared away if that use is overbalanced by some greater purpose.

Right, this is indeed a misuse. The intended meaning is obviously that you ought to figure out the original reason for the fence and whether it is still valid before making changes. It's a balance between reckless slash-and-burn and lost purposes. This is basic hygiene in, say, software development, where old undocumented code is everywhere.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 10 October 2014 01:55:45AM 1 point [-]

This is basic hygiene in, say, software development, where old undocumented code is everywhere.

Yep. On the other hand, in well-tested software you can make a branch, delete a source file you think might be unused, and see if all the binaries still build and the tests still pass. If they do, you don't need to know the original reason for that source file existing; you've shown that nothing in the current build depends on it.

This is a bit of a Chinese Room example, though — even though you don't know that the deleted file no longer served any purpose, the tests know it.

Comment author: Jiro 08 October 2014 11:24:15PM 7 points [-]

One big problem with Chesterton's Fence is that since you have to understand the reason for something before getting rid of it, if it happens not to have had a reason, you'll never be permitted to get rid of it.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 09 October 2014 01:52:07AM *  5 points [-]

Good point. Some properties of a system are accidental.


"We don't know why this wall is here, but we know that it is made of gray stone. We don't know why its builders selected gray stone. Therefore, we must never allow its color to be changed. When it needs repair we must make sure to use gray stone."

"But gray stone is now rare in our country and must be imported at great expense from Dubiously Allied Country. Can't we use local tan stone that is cheap?"

"Maybe gray stone suppresses zombie hordes from rising from the ground around the wall. We don't know, so we must not change it!"

"Maybe they just used gray stone because it used to be cheap, but the local supplies are now depleted. We should use cheap stone, as the builders did, not gray stone, which was an accidental property and not a deliberate design."

"Are you calling yourself an expert on stone economics and on zombie hordes, too!?"

"No, I'd just like to keep the wall up without spending 80% of our defense budget on importing stone from Dubiously Allied Country. I'm worried they're using all the money we send them to build scary battleships."

"The builders cared not for scary battleships! They cared for gray stone!"

"But it's too expensive!"

"But zombies!"

"Superstition!"

"Irresponsible radicalism!"

"Aaargh ... just because we don't have the builders here to answer every question about their design doesn't mean that we can't draw our own inferences and decide when to change things that don't make sense any more."

"Are you suggesting that the national defense can be designed by human reason alone, without the received wisdom of tradition? That sort of thinking led to the Reign of Terror!"

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 08 October 2014 08:51:16AM 1 point [-]

Chesterton's fence is the principle that reforms should not be made until the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs is understood. The quotation is from Chesterton’s 1929 book The Thing, in the chapter entitled "The Drift from Domesticity":

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it. 1)

1) "Taking a Fence Down". American Chesterton Society. Retrieved 21 June 2014.

Wikipedia: Chesterton's Fence

Prompted by this comment; curiously this appears to be lacking from rationality quotes threads despite some references to the fence around here.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 08 October 2014 04:55:43PM *  3 points [-]

I've seen Chesterton's quote used or misused in ways that assume that an extant fence must have some use that is both ① still existent, and ② beneficial; and that it can only be cleared away if that use is overbalanced by some greater purpose.

But some fences were created to serve interests that no longer exist: Hadrian's Wall, for one. The fact that someone centuries ago built a fence to keep the northern barbarians out of Roman Britain does not mean that it presently serves that purpose. Someone who observed Hadrian's Wall without knowledge of the Roman Empire, and thus the wall's original purpose, might correctly conclude that it serves no current military purpose to England.

For that matter, some fences exist to serve invidious purposes. To say "I don't see the use of this" is often a euphemism for "I see the harm this does, and it does not appear to achieve any counterbalancing benefit. Indeed, its purpose appears to have always been to cause harm, and so it should be cleared away expeditiously."

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