Sunday, January 8, 2017

Life is

"My life seemed like a glass tunnel,through which I was moving faster every year,and at the end of which there was darkness..."-Derek Parfit

Friday, January 6, 2017

Why anything?

Why anything?

Here is another analogy. Suppose first that, of a thousand people facing death, only one can be rescued. If there is a lottery to pick this one survivor, and I win, I would be very lucky. But there might be nothing here that needed to be explained. Someone had to win, and why not me? Consider next another lottery. Unless my gaoler picks the longest of a thousand straws, I shall be shot. If my gaoler picks that straw, there would be something to be explained. It would not be enough to say, ‘This result was as likely as any other.’ In the first lottery, nothing special happened: whatever the result, someone’s life would be saved. In this second lottery, the result was special, since, of the thousand possible results, only one would save a life. Why was this special result also what happened? Though this might be a coincidence, the chance of that is only one in a thousand. I could be almost certain that, like Dostoevsky’s mock execution, this lottery was rigged.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Intellectuals for Trump

Intellectuals for Trump
"But when the host asked whether Trump might be “more sensitive and self-restrained” than Obama in the use of executive power, the room erupted in laughter."

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wreckage: The Culture War

Wreckage: The Culture War
On that basis, anything that contradicts the mythology is taken as a personal attack on one’s self, and as violence against one’s clan, rather than disagreement about issues. Unfortunately, this perception is often justified. When the two sides of the culture war do engage, it is mainly just tribal conflict. It’s meta: a fight about the fight itself. The big question is who is going to win, not—as in the ’60s-80s countercultural era—“how can we change society for the better?”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

SlateStar on the Blue Tribe's Crying Wolf

Read SlateStar's post, You are Still Crying Wolf

This gets back to my doubts about “dog whistles”. Dog whistling seems to be the theory that if you want to know what someone really believes, you have to throw away decades of consistent statements supporting the side of an issue that everyone else in the world supports, and instead pay attention only to one weird out-of-character non-statement which implies he supports a totally taboo position which is perhaps literally the most unpopular thing it is possible to think. 
And then you have to imagine some of the most brilliant rhetoricians and persuaders in the world are calculating that it’s worth risking exposure this taboo belief in order to win support from a tiny group with five-digit membership whose support nobody wants, by sending a secret message, which inevitably every single media outlet in the world instantly picks up on and makes the focus of all their coverage for the rest of the election. 
Finally, no, none of this suggests that Donald Trump is courting the white supremacist vote.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Real War on Science

Read The Real War on Science
Conservatives have been variously pathologized as unethical, antisocial, and irrational simply because they don’t share beliefs that seem self-evident to liberals. For instance, one study explored ethical decision making by asking people whether they would formally support a female colleague’s complaint of sexual harassment. There was no way to know if the complaint was justified, but anyone who didn’t automatically side with the woman was put in the unethical category. Another study asked people whether they believed that “in the long run, hard work usually brings a better life”—and then classified a yes answer as a “rationalization of inequality.” Another study asked people if they agreed that “the Earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them”—a view held by many experts in resource economics, but the psychologists pathologized it as a “denial of environmental realities.”
I also recommend Jonathan Haidt's related talk