[POLITICS] Jihadism and a new kind of existential threat

post by MrMind · 2015-03-25T09:37:27.036Z · score: -3 (29 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 144 comments

Contents

  Preface
  Intro
  A new kind of existential threat
  Questions
None
144 comments

Politics is the mind-killer. Politics IS really the mind-killer. Please meditate on this until politics flows over you like butter on hot teflon, and your neurons stops fibrillating and resume their normal operations.

Preface

I've always found silly that LW, one of the best and most focused group of rationalists on the web isn't able to talk evenly about politics. It's true that we are still human, but can't we just make an effort at being calm and level-headed? I think we can. Does gradual exposure works on group, too? Maybe a little bit of effort combined with a little bit of exposure will work as a vaccine.
And maybe tomorrow a beautiful naked valkyrie will bring me to utopia on her flying unicorn...
Anyway, I want to try. Let's see what happens.

Intro

Two recent events has prompted me to make this post: I'm reading "The rise of the Islamic State" by Patrick Coburn, which I think does a good job in presenting fairly the very recent history surrounding ISIS, and the terrorist attack in Tunis by the same group, which resulted in 18 foreigners killed.
I believe that their presence in the region is now definitive: they control an area that is wider than Great Britain, with a population tallying over six millions, not counting the territories controlled by affiliate group like Boko Haram. Their influence is also expanding, and the attack in Tunis shows that this entity is not going to stay confined between the borders of Syria and Iraq.
It may well be the case that in the next ten years or so, this will be an international entity which will bring ideas and mores predating the Middle Age back on the Mediterranean Sea.

A new kind of existential threat

To a mildly rational person, the conflict fueling the rise of the Islamic State, namely the doctrinal differences between Sunni and Shia Islam, is the worst kind of Blue/Green division. A separation that causes hundreds of billions of dollars (read that again) to be wasted trying kill each other. But here it is, and the world must deal with it.
In comparison, Democrats and Republicans are so close that they could be mistaken for Aumann agreeing.
I fear that ISIS is bringing a new kind of existential threat: one where is not the existence of humankind at risks, but the existence of the idea of rationality.
The funny thing is that while people can be extremely irrational, they can still work on technology to discover new things. Fundamentalism has never stopped a country to achieve technological progress: think about the wonderful skyscrapers and green patches in the desert of the Arab Emirates or the nuclear weapons of Pakistan. So it might well be the case that in the future some scientist will start a seed AI believing that Allah will guide it to evolve in the best way. But it also might be that in the future, African, Asian and maybe European (gasp!) rationalists will be hunted down and killed like rats.
It might be the very meme of rationality to be erased from existence.

Questions

I'll close with a bunch of questions, both strictly and loosely related. Mainly, I'm asking you to refrain from proposing a solution. Let's assess the situation first.


Live long and prosper.

144 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Dutchmo · 2015-03-25T18:49:54.932Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Folks growing up in the '50s, '60s, '70s, and early '80s will remember the existential threat of that era: communism.

ISIS has a long way to go before it can capture the fear of total nuclear annihilation. The vietnam war, the korean war, the cold war, domino theory, the day after, red dawn, war games, duck-and-cover drills in school...

Whenever I hear hand-wringing from these youngsters about ISIS, I have to chuckle. Back in my day we had real existential threats, sonny.

Now I'm going back to watch my copy of Rocky iV. On VHS of course.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-25T21:16:16.711Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Back in my day we had real existential threats, sonny.

"Now get offa my lawn!"

comment by MrMind · 2015-03-26T08:00:24.006Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Well, the Doomsday Clock is today at 23:57, the lowest it has ever been in history since 1960...

comment by Dentin · 2015-04-01T18:46:14.983Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Doomsday Clock is a completely irrelevant sound bite. I find it absurd that anyone even cares enough to talk about it in this day and age.

comment by RowanE · 2015-03-25T10:52:35.241Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I expect Islamic State specifically to vanish within the next ten years, although fundamentalist Islamic terrorism will continue to be about as much of a threat as it was before, which isn't actually very much.

Violent jihadism is only a threat to the sanity waterline in the Islamic nations where it finds fertile ground, and what we should be worried about elsewhere is the reaction to Islamic extremism, which mostly involves new security measures that use "terrorism" as an excuse to infringe on liberties.

Islamic extremist AIs are only likely to be a problem when it's already been technologically possible to make an AI for several years, and the technological front-runners have been holding back due to safety concerns and not having solved FAI yet. This isn't because fundamentalism completely obstructs technological advancement, but the most technologically advanced majority-muslim nation is miles behind the most technologically advanced nation, and there's no reason to think they'll advance much faster and catch up.

comment by shminux · 2015-03-25T17:13:14.449Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

First, an obligatory reminder that the original post is not an injunction against talking politics, it is against politicizing a non-political discussion.

Do you think that the very same idea of rationality can be the subject of existential risk?

Second, let's imagine the future where the fundamental/radical/militant Islam won. Specifically, the Salafi version of Sunni Islam. Unconditionally. Everyone is muslim, no other religion is allowed. Everyone not originally muslim is either converted or killed. What's the worst that can happen to "rationality" in this case?

Clearly this would not affect instrumental rationality much, as striving to succeed is what people do. Also clearly, anything associated with Jews would be purged. This forum would be one of many casualties, but probably would not even register on the scale of destruction. Now, if you look back into history, this happened before, multiple times in various places. Only the dominant religion and the outgroup are different. Almost every time it was a setback, but only a temporary one. Science survived and eventually prospered. The dominant religious movement mellowed, then eventually splintered and crumbled, freeing the epistemic rationality to develop once more. I see no reason that this would be different the next time around.

What do Neoreactionaries think of the Islamic State?

I would imagine they would reply with their usual metaphors, about the Cathedral, Cthulhu's swimming habits and so on.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T18:54:35.015Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Clearly this would not affect instrumental rationality much, as striving to succeed is what people do.

And yet, if the theory of evolution is banned, you're probably not going to succeed at biology. If you are a very intelligent person in certain cultures you might succeed at memorising the entirety of the holy scriptures, which probably won't leave much time for science.

Almost every time it was a setback, but only a temporary one.

I disagree that this happening in the future would only be a temporary setback. The takeover of Islam would not be purely demographic and bloodless. Even if the NRxers are right, and the western world is becoming too weak to defend itself, the east would not go down without a fight. The world burns, and as autonomous killing machines stalk the radioactive ruins of cities the survivors start cutting corners on safety in order to desperately hack together some sort of superintelligence before they are overrun.

Assuming humanity survives the nukes and genetically engineered bioweapons or even, at a stretch, nanoweapons, could advanced technology create a panopticon surveillance society? A dystopia that can never be recovered from? Could people read the papers on lie detection and neural corrlates of beliefs, put people inside advanced futuristic brain scanners, and simply kill everyone who's thoughts betray them?

We've never seen humanity recover from a global singleton even without advanced technology.

Of course, we would all be dead, whether from war or from old age when the singularity is delayed.

I would imagine they would reply with their usual metaphors, about the Cathedral, Cthulhu's swimming habits and so on.

"What do rationalists think of X?"

"Oh, I imagine they reply with their usual talk about cognitive biases, negotiating with beings that don't exist, and so on"

Simply dismissing the outgroup isn't exactly the most rational form of discussion.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T19:41:25.632Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The world burns, and as autonomous killing machines stalk the radioactive ruins of cities the survivors start cutting corners on safety in order to desperately hack together some sort of superintelligence before they are overrun.

You mean a time machine to send Arnold Schwarzenegger back to the past, right? X-D

We've never seen humanity recover from a global singleton

Have you seen a global singleton to start with?

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T20:00:00.647Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You mean a time machine to send Arnold Schwarzenegger back to the past, right? X-D

I actually mean sticking together the technology for driverless cars, image recognition and ballistics. The first generation have already been built.

I do hope Arnie becomes president in time for the AI debate to enter politics.

"Mr President, the expert opinion is that reliquishment is impossible. There are too many commercial uses for proto-AI, there is no hard line between mathematics and AI, and finally it is simply not possible to ban computers nor to monitor all code written on them"

"So... what you are saying is that judgement day is inevitable?"

Have you seen a global singleton to start with?

Nope. But shminux was saying that we've seen humanity recover from local dytopias, and I was pointing out that this line of argument doesn't hold for global singletons.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-25T18:43:00.111Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Also clearly, anything associated with Jews would be purged

This is not obvious to me, though I would expect that all Jews will either have to convert or be killed. Or possibly just killed-- I don't think all the people in minority religions who've been killed by IS have been given a chance to convert.

I think LW being default atheist would be enough to get it erased.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T18:55:59.553Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I would expect that all Jews will either have to convert or be killed

Nope. Jews and Christians are "people of the book" and they don't have to convert. If you accept the authority of Islam and are happy to live your life as a second-class person, you can remain a Jew or a Christian.

Of course, that is not the case for everyone else (atheists, pagans, Hindus, all "deviant" Islamic sects, etc.).

comment by chaosmage · 2015-03-25T15:54:23.889Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

My prediction is that IS will go pretty much the same route as the ideologically and structurally very similar Mahdist State in South Egypt / Sudan in the late 19th century. Meaning I expect it to have more success, maybe sustained over a couple of years, due to their ability to wage war at comparatively little cost, then fall apart due to factional infighting when a new leader needs to take over.

That's because succession crises tend to be worse when the old leader's legitimacy depends on something any new leader cannot easily obtain. Abu Bakr, like Muhammad Ahmad before him, is holding together a large group of very angry people only due to the great respect he gets from them for the very successful campaign that put his organisation on the landscape. This campaign took years of clandestine preparation and would be very hard to copy for a now super visible group like IS.

Finally, that campaign was less than a year ago. Their infrastructure hasn't had time to crumble, they haven't run out of stolen bullets, their lieutenants haven't had time to develop grudges against each other. Give it time.

I find your scenario of a death of rationality ridiculous - even if IS could nuke the Bay Area, even that wouldn't do it. Rationality doesn't need anybody's approval. And from a monotheistic perspective, autonomous machines, let alone intelligent ones, seem so blatantly Demonic that I honestly cannot imagine any true believer attempting to build a godly one.

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-03-25T13:38:48.144Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Fundamentalism has never stopped a country to achieve technological progress: think about the wonderful skyscrapers and green patches in the desert of the Arab Emirates or the nuclear weapons of Pakistan. So it might well be the case that in the future some scientist will start a seed AI believing that Allah will guide it to evolve in the best way.

Both skyscrapers and nuclear weapons weren't invented in the middle East. The countries hired experts from Western countries that provided valuable expertise. If you want to argue that significant new discoveries are made under the umbrella of fundamentalism you need to bring different examples.

To me it's not clear that significant advances in computer science can be made in a climate of strict authority. Thinking for yourself is required to be a hacker and while it's possible to believe in Allah and think for yourself, the social structures of authority that exist in the region make progress in software hard. There are a lot of Indian programmers but few globally successful Indian software companies.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T19:13:05.265Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

To me it's not clear that significant advances in computer science can be made in a climate of strict authority.

When dealing with fundamentalist Islam or Christianity, I think biotech would suffer far worse.

There are a lot of Indian programmers but few globally successful Indian software companies.

Do you think India is strictly authoritarian? Perhaps because of the caste system? But then, why don't the high-caste people who are not under the heel of authority start companies?

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-03-25T19:45:04.453Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But then, why don't the high-caste people who are not under the heel of authority start companies?

It doesn't work if the programmers that get hired simply try to do what's ordered of them. which is true for a lot of Indians. You need programmers that actually care about the program they are addressing and who want to write beautiful code.

Indian culture doesn't easily allow bringing programmers in contact with interesting programming challenges and then getting out of the way while making certain that there nothing to distract the programmers from doing their work like having nothing to eat.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T21:07:33.725Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, well I'm not great expert on Indian culture but I see your point.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-03-25T21:13:16.069Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Rationality is hard enough when you're talking about simple topics about which a lot of information is known, like quantum physics. But politics is an extremely complicated subject, and there is a lot of unknown and missing information and this is by design. To give one example, during the cold war the US military did not often reveal the full extent of its capabilities, and this lead the public to be excessively fearful of the Soviet Union. Presidents were often criticised for lack of military buildup and taking a 'soft' stance. It was partly due to this kind of pressure that, for instance, the existence of the SR-71 spy plane was declassified. Declassified intelligence reports now indicate that American offensive, defensive, and espionage capabilities were far ahead of the Soviets. The US had more missiles, faster aircraft, and much better stealth capabilities.

So now consider the level of sophistication required for a rational debate on politics. You have to have a good grasp of human psychology, something which is hard enough in itself. You have to have a handle on all the various things that are going on in the world, and this is usually just impossible unless you're someone like the POTUS. You just don't have access to the information. And finally, you need to be able to wrestle all of this information and analyze things in a rational, evidence-based way, continuously updating your beliefs and fighting the ever-present mind-killing forces that are present in your brain. This is Hard, and to think we are capable of doing all three of these things is unrealistic. That's the main reason I don't think LW is a good place for political discussion, although I'm sure I don't speak for everyone.

comment by MrMind · 2015-03-26T07:48:22.965Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't understand if you think that there are better place for discussing rationality about politics and international topics, in which case I gladly accept suggestion, or that politics should be avoided at all. The second attitude seems... I'm at lost for words... seems like trying to shut your eyes hoping that the monster will go away.

The fact that it's hard I think it's precisely the reason why it should be talked at all, although I agree not necessarily on LW (but in that case, where?).

ETA: And I still think that this post has produced interesting and useful discussions.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T15:01:16.993Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think that the Islamic State is an entity which will vanish in the future or not?

Define your time scale. "Future" is very very long, everything will vanish in time.

Do you think that their particularly violent brand of jihadism is a worse menace to the sanity waterline than say, other kind of religious movements, past or present?

No. I can't see why a particular brand of fundamentalist Islam is a worse menace than, say, Stalin or Mao.

Do you buy the idea that fundamentalism can be coupled with technological advancement, so that the future will presents us with Islamic AI's?

Coupled with technological advancement, yes, as to "Islamic AIs" I don't understand what does that mean.

Do you think that the very same idea of rationality can be the subject of existential risk?

The subject of existential risk is humanity. Are you asking whether rationality can become extinct? Not likely, for, as Richard Feynman noted, "Nature cannot be fooled".

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T18:56:27.817Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

No. I can't see why a particular brand of fundamentalist Islam is a worse menace than, say, Stalin or Mao.

Seeing as both Stalin and Mao are dead, I think everything is a worse menace.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-03-25T17:57:21.325Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Fundamentalism has never stopped a country to achieve technological progress

Disagreed; a primary danger of fundamentalism is that it stops technological progress, and puts too much focus and attention on the past as opposed to the future. Consider al-Ghazali as the standardbearer for reactionary fundamentalist thought at the close of the Islamic Golden Age, and Ibn Rushd as the standardbearer for rationality. Consider Zheng He against the Confucian faction.

Now, that's not to say there won't be any engineers among the violent side; consider the example of the 9/11 WTC attack. I expect we will see more and more clever IEDs as time goes on.

It's also not clear to me that "rationality" is really the right thing to be worried about here. Be specific: it's much easier to talk about the impact of violent Islamic reactions to freedom of speech on the principle of freedom of speech, and about how that will alter our imperfect instantiation of it, for better or for worse.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-03-25T11:14:00.137Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

What I am worried about is that the Christian Reformation was an extremely traumatic event for Europe. I still feel the effects today -- the fact that I can't find a garbage can in London's Waterloo station can be directly traced to the Reformation.

Lots of folks remarked that Islam has not gone through its own Reformation event, and probably should/will at some point. This will be far more traumatic for Islam than for Christianity, and there are nukes now, and mass communication which are multipliers for how bad this kind of conflict can get.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-03-25T12:49:12.152Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

What I am worried about is that the Christian Reformation was an extremely traumatic event for Europe. I still feel the effects today -- the fact that I can't find a garbage can in London's Waterloo station can be directly traced to the Reformation.

Garbage cans in British railway stations went away when the IRA were bombing us. But the Irish matter is not a religious dispute. It is a territorial one that goes back as long as it has been possible to wage war across the Irish sea, and the only question at issue is, who shall rule the Irish mainland? That the territorial dispute happens to correlate with a religious difference is due to the Reformation, but without the Reformation, the English and the Irish would still have fought over Ireland. I doubt there would have been any more final resolution than there is at present.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-03-26T01:13:43.386Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But the Irish matter is not a religious dispute

I am not really sure what you are trying to say.

Christianity was important in the 17th century, and remained so probably until WWI at least. You can always say that e.g. the 30 year war was really about France vs the HRE, or the HRE infighting, and the whole deal with Bloody Mary was really about dynastic politics in the Kingdom of England, or the IRA was really about reprisal for English territorial ambitions (all based on a counterfactual argument).

I just don't find that very convincing. Obviously things other than religion were going on. This does not change the fact that (a) religion was very important in Europe, (b) a lot of blood was spilled before Europe worked through the Reformation, certainly in England, but also in the HRE, and (c) there are echoes of those events today. You can argue that in the counterfactual world where catholics reformed earlier and there was never a Luther we would still get the same trauma, but I don't know how to evaluate that counterfactual (nor is it that interesting of a question to me -- I care about the world we are in).


My original worry is that the world is in for some pain when Islam's Luther finally nails the Theses to some door. Islam is important to people.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-26T18:01:56.134Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Also, I'm not sure what an Islamic Reformation would mean. Islam is already pretty decentralized.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-26T18:16:18.565Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Also, I'm not sure what an Islamic Reformation would mean.

I would mean the separation of religion and profane life into separate magisteria.

The problem with Islam is that it claims to be a total religion which guides all aspects of human life including politics, art, etc. Islam never had a "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's" moment and routinely calls the Christian separation of sacred and profane life "schizophrenic".

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-26T22:04:08.104Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The idea that religion shouldn't be all of life is a good idea, but I don't think that's what most people mean by a Reformation.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-03-26T07:42:25.337Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But the Irish matter is not a religious dispute

I am not really sure what you are trying to say.

A footnote, really. I agree that the 30 Years War was about religion, with territorial ambitions piggybacking on that. But the Irish matter was the other way round.

Also agreed that an Islamic Reformation would be a dangerous thing for everyone. Islam has a schism already, since early in its history, and it's already dangerous for everyone.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-03-28T09:16:36.720Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But the Irish matter was the other way round.

That's interesting, thanks. I will query the locals!

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-25T11:32:57.796Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the fact that I can't find a garbage can in London's Waterloo station can be directly traced to the Reformation.

What's your line of thought?

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-03-25T12:24:38.786Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

IRA bombs in public places were a problem for a long time in England, and there was a worry (based on some incidents) that they would be placed in garbage cans. So to this day they are either in a transparent plastic bag form, or absent entirely.

The IRA of course was the successor of the original IRA, which is in a long line of Irish resistance to British rule, in large part fueled by things like the "Protestant Ascendancy" in Ireland. Which, of course, is due to the Reformation.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-25T12:47:54.839Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

AFAIK terms like Protestant/Catholic are not to be understood literally wrt to the conflict in Ireland. They are more tribal flags than faiths in this sense. It can be seen as an ethnic conflict - Protesants being of Scottish origin. Some people I know have a theory that conflicts that are hard to resolve tend to be ethnic. Or the political conflict of unionists / republicans. Or to a certain extent even a rich/poor class struggle.

While it is arguing from fictional evidence, Leon Uris laid out the history in Trinity. While it is true that the Reformation and Cromwell's religious zeal motivated his conquests of Ireland, everything afterwards, according to Uris, is largely about Irish people ("Catholics") had their land taken away and given to Cromwell's Scots ("Protestants"). This generated a social, economic, class conflict.

This, IMHO, cannot really be blamed on the Reformation.

Another weird aspect is that for some reason unknown to me in the UK & Ireland people don't like to see conflicts as ethnic. Cromwell's people did not want to keep a Scottish identity, and adopted an Irish one, which can be understandble as a tactical move, but for some astonishing reason Irish people did not call them out on it, did not tell them "you are not really Irish just Scottish in disguise" but readily adopted the "you Protestant, me Catholic" tribal identities. So basically for some reason they did not want to approach their confict the same way as say Serbs and Croats approached theirs. For them, ethnicity was much important than their religious difference (Catholic/Orthodox).

And this is misleading today.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-25T17:07:23.732Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This, IMHO, cannot really be blamed on the Reformation.

Why not? That's when the split between Protestants and Catholics happened.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T17:14:44.205Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

By similar reasoning you can blame it on Jesus. And the Norman invasion. Etc. etc.

When you have a particular situation arising out of long and complicated history, pointing to one small piece and saying "Ah, that's the cause" is disingenuous.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-26T08:25:30.588Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Because if a split results in a socio-economic setup that is conflict-generating in itself, it is a more immediate cause. I mean in a long chain of causes which one one should take the blame? Cosmic constants? :-)

comment by komponisto · 2015-03-26T07:18:39.372Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
comment by Epictetus · 2015-03-27T06:59:24.094Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think that the Islamic State is an entity which will vanish in the future or not?

In the future? Yes. In the near future? Unlikely. The Islamic State is a reaction to forces that have been at work in the Middle East for some decades now and there are certain parties who think it in their short-term benefit for the Islamic State to continue its existence.

Do you think that their particularly violent brand of jihadism is a worse menace to the sanity waterline than say, other kind of religious movements, past or present?

No. It's violent enough that it's not the sort of thing that makes people insane, but rather the sort of thing that attracts the insane.

Do you buy the idea that fundamentalism can be coupled with technological advancement, so that the future will presents us with Islamic AI's?

It's possible. Terrorists tend to be educated and the most common college degree among them is engineering. There are certainly people with the relevant background to enable technological advancement.

Do you think that the very same idea of rationality can be the subject of existential risk?

No. If rationality ceased to exist tomorrow, someone would just reinvent it later. As long as people are around and civilization remains a possibility, rationality won't be permanently gone.

What do Neoreactionaries think of the Islamic State? After all, it's an exemplar case of the reactionaries in those areas winning big. I know it's only a surface comparison, I'm sincerely curious about what a NR think of the situation.

It happened under Obama's watch, so it's clearly evidence of the failure of leftist politics.

comment by seer · 2015-03-28T02:39:01.121Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What do Neoreactionaries think of the Islamic State? After all, it's an exemplar case of the reactionaries in those areas winning big. I know it's only a surface comparison, I'm sincerely curious about what a NR think of the situation.

It happened under Obama's watch, so it's clearly evidence of the failure of leftist politics.

Do you even know anything about Neoreaction besides the name?

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-25T11:45:47.088Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think that the Islamic State is an entity which will vanish in the future or not?

Nothing lasts forever, though religions (in a fairly general sense) last longer than most things.

To my mind, the interesting question is whether the Islamic State will be gone soonish. In the short run, it's anti-fragile. It feeds on being attacked. On the other hand, it revolts every other institution which has a preference for normal human life.

It's possible that the rest of the world will solve coordination problems so as to destroy IS by military attacks.

I like the idea that it will take inspiration-- the development of a new religion or variant of Islam or alternatively some brilliant satire-- to create something to move people away from IS. It's pretty clear that mere decency isn't motivating enough.

Do you think that their particularly violent brand of jihadism is a worse menace to the sanity waterline than say, other kind of religious movements, past or present?

I have no idea. I wasn't there for the other religions.

Do you buy the idea that fundamentalism can be coupled with technological advancement, so that the future will presents us with Islamic AI's?

I don't think fundamentalists are good at innovation (have I missed something?), but they're at least as good as everyone else at using innovations invented by other people. They may be better at it if they're more motivated.

If there are AIs without a FOOM, there will be Islamic AIs, which is not the same thing as jihadist AIs. I think we can expect AIs from all the major religions and subdivisions of religions. If AIs are cheap (and I haven't seen speculation on what AIs will cost), there will be AIs based on fringe and new religions as well.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-03-25T16:07:55.848Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

development of a new religion or variant of Islam

Perhaps someone who knows more about Bahaism (without being one of them) could tell whether promoting Bahaism might be a way to stop violent Islam.

Bahaism tries to be the next version of Islam, so for people who need religion in their lives it should be easier to convert from Islam to Bahaism, as opposed to Christianity. At this moment, Bahaism seems like a peaceful religion; which of course can be due to the fact that they are an oppressed minority at most places. But still, some peaceful memes could survive even if they would grow.

So, the strategy is that non-Islamic countries should support on their territory the Bahai preachers trying to convert all Islamic immigrants to their faith. First, more peaceful religion is preferable. Second, let's give our enemies one more problem to care about, so they have less time to spend on fighting us.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-03-25T18:14:01.594Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Bahaism tries to be the next version of Islam

Sikhism had already tried it, and Muslims didn't like it one bit.

comment by knb · 2015-03-25T18:39:26.292Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps someone who knows more about Bahaism (without being one of them) could tell whether promoting Bahaism might be a way to stop violent Islam.

Islam has a pretty effective internal system for suppressing religious innovation. Religious innovation in traditional interpretations of Islam carries the death penalty. Bahai is an interesting, very progressive religion in a lot of ways, but they are heavily persecuted throughout the Muslim world and cannot proselytize openly.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-26T18:05:34.662Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Bahaism isn't the solution-- if it were, it would have worked already. The same goes for Sufism, though it might be fair to think that the Sufis are working on the problem, but haven't been able to exert enough influence yet.

comment by Ander · 2015-03-25T20:08:06.224Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps someone who knows more about Bahaism (without being one of them) could tell whether promoting Bahaism might be a way to stop violent Islam.

I was raised Bahai and used to consider myself one when I was younger, before discovering rationality, so I will give my perspective. (If you're wondering, I'm a white American just like many of you. If anyone else was Bahai and converted to atheism feel free to message me, it would be interesting to talk to someone else).

I don't think this is a viable solution to ISIS, at least within any timeframe less than centuries. Converting people to a different religion is very hard, they've already been trying for the past 150 years, so they aren't going to suddenly succeed just because we want ISIS to go away. An easier short term strategy might simply be to support non-radical elements within mainstream Islam, and support economic growth and education in the region, trying to prevent the populace of the area from being influence by the more radical elements. But that was probably a strategy to use prior to ISIS taking over large parts of the region. At this point the best strategy is probably to contain them and stop their military progress, and then wait for them to crumble and weaken internally.

If one did somehow succeed in replacing violent Islam with Bahaism or another peaceful religion, it would probably be preferable to violent Islam, as you noted. I don't believe the religion will ever not be peaceful, since that is very much at the core of the religion. While Bahais are persecuted in the middle east (considered apostates by Islam), in most of the world they are not oppressed. (Over the course of many centuries however, anything could probably happen).

I do agree that peaceful religions are preferable, but I do worry that if they are successful it might create a greater opponent to rationality and transhumanism in the long term. Fundamentalist religions appear very obviously wrong to reasonable people, its not that hard to realize that evolution is true and that new earth creationists are wrong, for example. But it is much more difficult for a reasonable person to realize that religion is untrue when it claims to be allied with science, and tries very hard to not make claims that are disprovable. Many newer religions (created after the development of the scientific method) do this, and they promote the view that science and religion are not incompatible, that science is correct in everything we have discovered, but that God, souls, afterlife, etc, exist but cannot be tested by science (separate magisterium).

This is a harder premise to show to be true than those of fundamentalist religions, and still lead to the ultimate problem of people accepting death, not seeking to end death and aging, and believing that no matter what happens, nothing truly catastrophic will happen to humanity, leading them to ignore existential risks. (Though the sequences are still effective in refuting these ideas as well, imo).

On the other hand, maybe more liberal religious ideas are actually easier to break people out of than fundamentalist ones? I am not sure. While they don't tend to be militant like ISIS, they still oppose transhumanism and thus must be defeated in order for us to build a world without death.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T19:17:02.571Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The Protestants didn't stop Catholicism. Nor did any of the minor branches of Protestants stop the mainstream branches.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T16:26:48.465Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

whether promoting Bahaism might be a way to stop violent Islam.

The answer is no. Actually, the answer is "Oh dear Lord, this is the same as asking whether you could bloodlessly win a war by sending a lot of balloons with smiley faces across the front lines".

Bahaism tries to be the next version of Islam

No, not really, it doesn't. It's a small religion, an offshoot of Islam, but so are many others in the region. It's peaceful for the same reason contemporary Judaism does not proselytize -- that's how a minority survives in a hostile world. Any particular reason you prefer Bahais over, say, Alawis? Alawis are actually fighting ISIS at the moment...

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-03-25T17:23:05.517Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Any particular reason you prefer Bahais over, say, Alawis?

No. I just haven't heard about them before. I guess in every situation we should support the more peaceful alternative that is already there, so the preachers are genuine.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T17:31:47.495Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I guess in every situation we should support the more peaceful alternative

I don't think so -- pacifism fails rather badly. Sometimes you just need to kill the bastards.

But if I may ask a general question -- what led you to offer a suggestion in the area about which you know practically nothing? This isn't snark, I am really curious. You probably wouldn't offer advice on how all the surgeons in the world should operate, so why did you take it upon yourself to suggest changing religions for a billion people?

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-03-26T15:08:12.405Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

what led you to offer a suggestion in the area about which you know practically nothing? ... You probably wouldn't offer advice on how all the surgeons in the world should operate, so why did you take it upon yourself to suggest changing religions for a billion people?

I thought that saying "perhaps someone who knows more ... could tell whether ... might be a way to ..." was a sufficient disclaimer.

If I had an idea about how all the surgeons in the world might operate better (e.g. trying tools from materials with different physical properties, having other surgeons watch the operation on video in real time and offer advice when asked by the main surgeon, etc.), yeah, I might ask in the same way whether someone had thought about it.

comment by Ander · 2015-03-25T20:25:55.605Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

suggest changing religions for a billion people?

Indeed, it is humorous to suggest this as a solution. You have now created a task that is probably about as hard as defeating aging of creating a friendly AI. (Well maybe not quite as hard but close!)

comment by RichardKennaway · 2015-03-25T12:50:00.781Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

To my mind, the interesting question is whether the Islamic State will be gone soonish. In the short run, it's anti-fragile. It feeds on being attacked. On the other hand, it revolts every other institution which has a preference for normal human life.

Which institutions are those, though? The Western world in general of course, but parts of the Moslem world do not share those preferences, even leaving aside IS itself. This is a major part of what the struggle is about.

For example, I have read somewhere that Saudi Arabia is benignly disposed towards IS. The Saudis do not say this in public, of course, and being an absolute autocracy do not need to say anything to anyone. I have heard someone on the radio say that Boko Haram was encouraged and assisted by certain Nigerian politicians trying to build their own power base, which is one reason it can abduct children by the hundred and nothing effective is done about it.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T15:13:41.738Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Boko Haram was encouraged and assisted by certain Nigerian politicians

Nigeria is composed of three people/tribes: the Christian Yoruba in the south-west, the Christian Igbo in the south-east, and the Muslim Hausa in the north. They periodically fight -- e.g. in the late 60s they had basically a civil war when Igbo tried for independence (see Biafra) and were suppressed.

Boko Haram is based in the Hausa north and Hausa don't like the more powerful and richer southern Christians.

comment by seer · 2015-03-26T21:42:24.364Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like the idea that it will take inspiration-- the development of a new religion or variant of Islam or alternatively some brilliant satire-- to create something to move people away from IS. It's pretty clear that mere decency isn't motivating enough.

No, the problem is that the West has been slowly rejecting the very concept of decency over the past century.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-26T22:07:28.614Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

We are hardly limited to having only one problem.

I'm willing to grant that I've been seeing a slow-moving war on empathy in the West, but I don't think that's the reason Daesh has been influencing people.

comment by seer · 2015-03-26T22:53:27.672Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's not what I was talking about. I mean how over the past century anything decent has been rejected as at best bourgeois, and at worst sexist and homophobic.

comment by AnthonyC · 2015-03-27T13:35:49.200Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think seer and Nancy are using two different definitions of "decency."

"modesty and propriety" vs. "polite, moral, and honest behavior and attitudes that show respect for other people"

Also, if we take google's usage-over-time statistics, the big drop in usage of the (English) word "decency" happened in the 1800s: http://bit.ly/1D5ZF55

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-03-27T02:05:21.795Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In that statement, what exactly do you mean by "decent"?

comment by seer · 2015-03-27T02:14:40.294Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was using the word because Nancy introduced it into the discussion. From the context, the practical meaning is "decent" as perceived by a more-or-less typical person in most of human history.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T19:47:24.462Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In general:

Religiosity is correlated with fertility, the most extreme example being 'quiverfull' people having 8 kids each, with Mormons in a close second.

Religiosity is about 50% genetically heritable, and also mimetically heritable, the extent depending upon the situation.

The secularisation of Europe might have gone as far as it can go, while if anything the US seems to be getting more religious. In the long run, won't genes win out?

Therefore, it seems likely that the world is going to keep on getting more religious. And I'm sure we are all aware that exponential growth curves can cause very rapid changes. Trying to put an exact time-frame is difficult, because of immigration, questions of how long communities can remain isolated from the rest of the country, positive feedback where immigrants vote for more immigration, negated feedback from backlashes, birthrates decreasing in a demographic transition, and so forth.

I did a calculation and decided that within around 100 years many secular countries would be run by religious fanatics, and then I read that the quiverfull movement has around a 20% retention rate. Of course, given exponential growth that doesn't buy all that more time.

The problem isn't that ISIS take over. They don't have the weapons, they don't have the numbers, they don't control any tank factories. The worry is that in 2100 or 2200, if for some reason the singularity hasn't happened, fundamentalist Muslims are a democratic majority in France and evangelicals are a majority in the US, and now there is a far more serious threat than that of ISIS, and the question of whether, with the technology of 2200, the US can disable France's nuclear weapons in a first strike is raised.

Obviously that is just one hypothetical. But as the average religiosity rises, and when both Islam and Christianity have a serious history of violence, it seems likely to end in disaster, if baseline humans are still the dominant force at that point in time.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T20:13:11.217Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In the long run, won't genes win out?

So, a couple of hundred years ago the West was 95%+ religious. Not so much now. Why is that and why genes are not winning out? And why are there so many irreligious Chinese?

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T20:33:18.859Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, firstly I think the correlation between religion and fertility is probably a lot more relevant after the invention of medicine, sanitation and contraceptives. A couple of hundred years ago a lot of people didn't survive to adulthood. Certain religious groups such as Mormons have massively increased in proportion over the last hundred years.

As for the Chinese, over short time periods memes win over genes, and Mao stamped down on religion. Does Confusianism/Taoism/Buddism have any sort of similar teaching about being fruitful? Are these even religions in the same sense, or are they legal codes, an early attempt at science and a philosophy respectively?

comment by chaosmage · 2015-03-26T11:39:05.638Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're neglecting a different factor that is more highly (and negatively) correlated with fertility than religiosity: level of education in mothers. Religious families significantly outreproduce nonreligious ones only where their level of education is also significantly lower. (Quiverfulls homeschool, ultra-orthodox jews in Israel have their own schools, muslims in Europe and Russia tend to live in poor areas with comparatively bad schools.) Of course these two factors are causally linked: lots of religions have explicit or implicit norms against girls' education. But to neglect the stronger one of the two is to mistakenly see an unassailable problem.

comment by fezziwig · 2015-03-25T21:37:55.809Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I read that the quiverfull movement has around a 20% retention rate. Of course, given exponential growth that doesn't buy all that more time.

Typo? If each pair of Quiverfull parents produces 8 children, and 8/5 = 1.6 of those grow up to become Quiverfull themselves, then the movement needs to proselytize aggressively just to hit replacement.

Also, anecdotally, my friends who are true-believer evangelicals don't think the demographic strategy is going to work; they think they're losing too many to the world.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T22:21:59.829Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, if 1% of Christians in general become Quiverfull, and 8/5=1.6 Quiverfull children per mother remain Quiverfull, you get 1% first generation converts, 0.99 x 0.01 + 0.01 x 0.8 = 1.79% second generation ...

Of course its more complex than that, and many of the children who do not remain Quiverfull will still be 'carriers'. But without working out the equations, it still seems clear that genes that predispose people towards Quiverfull will have higher fitness, but its not going to quadruple every generation.

Essentially, the quiverfull people aren't spreading memes well, but are spreading genes that predispose religiosity.

And sure, your evangelical friends might not think it would work, but then they probably don't believe in evolution.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-25T21:12:43.518Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wish I could pin it down. Some Big Think or similar forum talk. They discussed exactly the issue you bring up - the large differential birth rates between the very religious and the secular.

EDIT: Ha! Found it. "Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?", byt Eric Kaufman
See http://www.amazon.com/Shall-Religious-Inherit-Earth-Twenty-First/dp/1846681448
and youtube talk at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYEyv5a_3LM

The worry is that in 2100 or 2200, if for some reason the singularity hasn't happened, fundamentalist Muslims are a democratic majority in France and evangelicals are a majority in the US, and now there is a far more serious threat than that of ISIS, and the question of whether, with the technology of 2200, the US can disable France's nuclear weapons in a first strike is raised.

I think you're basically correct that in democracies, and even quasi democracies, it doesn't take long for differential birth rates to transform a society, but you are in fact underestimating the effect. The shit will hit the fan long before 2100.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/361804/russias-demographic-revolution-daniel-pipes

Russia is already approximately 15% muslim, with huge differential birth rates between christians and muslims. And that 15% understates the real issue for violence and control - who has the most young men. I've seen numbers that by 2020 (!) half the Russian army will be muslim, and that majority will only grow from there.

EDIT: Speaking of the shit hitting the fan, there's an article about the potential for Putin to lose power, and what could replace him.

http://www.vox.com/2015/1/5/7482441/how-putin-lose-power

But Navalny certainly seems to have demonstrated racist attitudes in the past. And he could play the "we Russians are being bled and exploited by the people from North Caucasus, by the people from Central Asia" card.
That plays to a depressingly powerful strand of common Russian public opinion, and it's something against which Putin has surprisingly little defense. That could conceivably build a wider public constituency quite quickly if Navalny is willing to play that card.

Putin has been stoking the fires of "the international world is holding us down" for a long time. We are Great and Imperial, but we have been Betrayed. Add the demographic threat to christian ethnic Russians, and they can really get that party started.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-26T06:35:47.008Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In Moscow, Tatar women have six children and Chechen and Ingush women have ten on average.

!

Look at the Ukraine - part of the population identified as Ukrainian, part as Russian, and it lead to a civil war. That was just nationality, this is nationality and religion and ethnicity. Is there going to be a civil war in the world's most heavly-armed nuclear state? Will they start sneaking suitcase nukes out?

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-03-26T17:01:04.835Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Look at the Ukraine - part of the population identified as Ukrainian, part as Russian, and it lead to a civil war.

Look, this is a live issue. People are dying. People are dying in my hometown. Please don't just repeat things you may have heard "somewhere," because there is an information war, and if you repeat lies, you help perpetuate a bad thing by bad people. I think it is better to either say nothing about that conflict, or try to use local sources only if you really want to talk about it.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-26T22:02:11.256Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not trying to say that I know better then someone from the Ukraine, but I'm not just repeating stuff I read "somewhere": I've checked just now and both wikipedia and bbc news, which I would expect to be impartial or partially anti-Russia, say that this is at least partially a civil war.

To clarify, I know there are Russian troops fighting too. I'm also not saying that Russia didn't engineer the crisis somehow. I'm not saying that the Russian intervention is justified. I'm not saying that the rebels are justified. But if the BBC mentions "Pro-Russian rebels" then it looks like this is a civil war with support from Russia, rather than a pure Russian invasion, unless the BBC is a pro-Russian propaganda tool.

Sorry if I touched a nerve btw.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-03-26T22:50:21.416Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wikipedia is not reliable for these sorts of things, for what I hope are obvious reasons. BBC is more so, but even Western news editors operate on their own set of incentives that the good folks over in .ru study very carefully.

What I was trying to say wasn't "I know better than you," but "if there are big players with a strong incentive + a lot of money and people to paint an incorrect picture of what is happening to you, how would you be able to tell?" See also: "Russia is a democracy."


One of the interesting things about the Ukraine crisis is that it is a live fire exercise for propaganda and opinion engineering in the internet age.


My opinion, for the record: I am sure there are people originally from eastern Ukraine currently fighting. But the entire thing is basically entirely engineered and ran from Moscow, with Russian military expertise and hardware. Rebel commanding officers are all Russian special ops people. I suppose if you can find a hundred people originally from that part of the world to fight on the rebel side that would be enough to call it a "civil war."

It is a "civil war" in the sense that Russian-speaking people are killing each other. It is not a "civil war" in the sense of "inherent ethnic tensions exploded into a war in a way we always knew they would" as would be the case in the former Yugoslavia, say. That is not what is happening, what is happening is Russia using "continuation of politics by other means" to reassert its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe.

A Russian speaking Ukraine that is a part of EU with a growing economy a la Poland would have been enormously bad news for the Russian political establishment. It is a matter of survival for them (note: not for Russia, for them).

comment by satt · 2015-03-28T20:30:17.354Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

[The eastern Ukraine conflict] is not a "civil war" in the sense of "inherent ethnic tensions exploded into a war in a way we always knew they would" as would be the case in the former Yugoslavia, say.

I think that's wrong, but wrong in an interesting and ultimately informative way!

While diplomats, politicians & journalists at the time did sometimes explain the Yugoslav wars of succession as an outburst of long-standing ethnic tensions, Western scholars regard such tensions as only a minor cause of the wars. (I can dig up a range of quotations to back that up but, as you might be the only person to read this, I won't bother unless someone asks.)

What did cause the wars? A combination of things: chauvinist nationalisms, struggles between centralist & anti-centralist Yugoslav leaders, economic stagnation, the dwindling credibility of Communism at the end of the 1980s, and yes, deeply rooted ethnic antagonisms to a limited degree. But foremost among the causes was a coalition drawn loosely together by Slobodan Milošević to further Serb nationalism, which included other politicians, intellectuals, militaries, state media, and irredentists in republics adjacent to Serbia.

By manoeuvring actors in the coalition into fighting for them, Milošević and other Serbian politicians helped engineer the wars, first by allowing the Yugoslav People's Army into Slovenia when Slovenia declared independence, then by arming irredentist Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina and nudging them to secede, generating a pretext to (1) attempt to disarm Croatia and B&H, and (2) send the increasingly Serbified army into Croatia and B&H, all in the guise of peacekeeping.

Why do I delve into all that? Because it actually has an uncanny resemblance to the eastern Ukraine conflict, as I understand it. As in ex-Yugoslavia, people overblow the ethno-linguistic uniformity of the regions involved when seeking to explain the violence. As in ex-Yugoslavia, the leaders of a large republic prop up a rebellion in an adjacent smaller republic. As in ex-Yugoslavia, the fighting seems to involve a mixture of units from a neighbour's army and small bands of undisciplined irregulars, as opposed to a sweeping war of all against all. As in ex-Yugoslavia, state-controlled media outlets stir the shit and skew their coverage of the conflict.

As best as I can tell as a distant layperson, the eastern Ukrainian conflict indeed isn't a "'civil war' in the sense of 'inherent ethnic tensions explod[ing] into a war in a way we always knew they would" — but neither were the wars in ex-Yugoslavia, and partly for this reason the two conflicts turn out to be surprisingly apposite analogues of each other.

July 2015 edit: changed "sending the Yugoslav People's Army into Slovenia" to "allowing the Yugoslav People's Army into Slovenia"; although the Serb-nationalist coalition did not block the army's entry to Slovenia, it was Ante Marković (the Yugoslav federal prime minister, who was not a member of that coalition and indeed increasingly isolated by it) who initiated the attempted invasion.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-26T18:43:20.810Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

because there is an information war

Yes, there is.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-03-26T15:13:16.506Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Look at the Ukraine - part of the population identified as Ukrainian, part as Russian, and it lead to a civil war.

As far as I know, this is how one side of the conflict explains it. The other side has a different opinion on what actually happened. Specifically, that the reason for starting the war was Russian soldiers (soldiers coming from Russia, not the local minorities) crossing the border and, well, starting the war.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-26T15:22:44.472Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Look at the Ukraine - part of the population identified as Ukrainian, part as Russian, and it lead to a civil war.

I agree with Viliam_Bur:

Look at the Ukraine -- Putin wants a small victorious war, so little green men go into Ukraine and start a "civil" war.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-26T14:48:39.695Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In Moscow, Tatar women have six children and Chechen and Ingush women have ten on average.

On average? Sorry, this is obvious bullshit. Or someone doesn't know what "average" means.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-26T21:40:15.262Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Its only slightly higher than the quiverfull people, so I'd say its only a little implausible, rather than total bullshit.

comment by satt · 2015-03-27T04:21:52.036Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A priori, an average of 6 is in the realm of possibility if it's a total fertility rate. Two decades ago the highest national-level European TFR was in Kosovo, where Albanian women had a TFR around 6.5. So Muscovite Tatar women having a TFR of 6 nowadays could be just about possible.

I have a hard time, though, believing that Muscovite Chechen & Ingush women are breaking double digits; that'd be off the national charts. One miiiiight be able to bend over backwards to explain that away as a Moscow-and-ethnicity-specific anomaly, but I'm not sure how.

I poked around a bit to try uncovering more data on Tatar women in Moscow, but couldn't find anything quickly on Google Scholar which had Moscow-specific TFRs by ethnicity. One paper does use 1989 census data to find that in Russia as a whole, ethnic Russian & Tatar women aged 50-54 averaged 1.88 & 2.65 "children ever born" respectively. 2.65 is a lot lower than 6, so either (1) Moscow Tatars are astoundingly prolific compared to Tatars elsewhere in Russia; (2) Russian Tatar women have most of their babies post-menopause; (3) Russian Tatar women, reversing their earlier demographic transition, have more than doubled their TFR in the last 25 years; or (4) "In Moscow, Tatar women have six children [...] on average" is BS. A blog post with blunter but more recent data is suggestive of (4).

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-27T14:31:21.798Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Quiverfull people self-select into having lots of children. Women of a particular ethnic background do not.

comment by is4junk · 2015-03-25T22:31:01.034Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Russia is already approximately 15% muslim, with huge differential birth rates between christians and muslims. And that 15% understates the real issue for violence and control - who has the most young men. I've seen numbers that by 2020 (!) half the Russian army will be muslim, and that majority will only grow from there.

Doesn't this analysis depend on army technology not changing? 100 years ago this would be spot on but if in the next decade we continue to see smaller armies of people being more and more effective you could have a Russia with an even smaller army without muslim leadership.

The same is true for the civilian side. Even with large numbers of disaffected young males - near term technological surveillance could prevent them from organizing in any meaningful way.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-26T06:23:34.030Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But since Russia is a democracy, any majority group can simply vote themselves into power. Realistically, people are not going to bar Muslims from entering the army.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-03-26T09:31:50.935Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But since Russia is a democracy

???

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-26T10:05:26.414Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, its my understanding that Russia is generally described as 'partially democratic' meaning something along the line of there are elections, but state control of parts of the media and other factors mean that the ruling party hasn't lost any elections. But, state control of the media only goes so far. Japan's ruling party didn't lose any elections for over 50 years, and then following the financial crash of 2008 they did.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-03-26T11:00:51.955Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think Russia is really democratic in any meaningful sense we understand in the West. Putin et al just find it useful to maintain this as a polite fiction. In particular, my prediction is that changing demographics will have no effect whatsoever on the distribution of political power in Russia without other drastic changes (e.g. a coup d'etat)

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-26T14:40:34.486Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think Russia is really democratic in any meaningful sense we understand in the West.

Do you think Russia was democratic at any recent point? Mid-1990s, maybe?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-10-30T14:42:20.631Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interestingly, The LOR -see 1 and 2 democratically elect their own officers. It's almost like extreme authoritarian salafism of the ISIL brings out extreme democratic libertarian fighters out of the woodwork (nb. many of them are actually marxist, but at least they can get along for the time being).

comment by is4junk · 2015-03-25T22:49:08.766Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What do Neoreactionaries think of the Islamic State? After all, it's an exemplar case of the reactionaries in those areas winning big. I know it's only a surface comparison, I'm sincerely curious about what a NR think of the situation.

While this is an interesting question - my take on the NRx was it was more anti-democracy then pro-Monarchy. So I think a better question for them would be: if fundamentalist Muslims become a democratic majority (via demographics) and vote in IS or the Muslim Brotherhood would that be a "big win" too? A less hypothetical question might be NRx's take on the state of Iraq's fledgling democracy.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-26T09:30:55.029Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've seen some NRx support for Saudi Arabia as a Muslim version of their principles, but nothing about the Islamic state.

Yet another case of ideals over loyalties.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-26T06:11:12.809Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think you meant this as a reply to the original post, not to my reply.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure virtually all NRxers would prefer democracy to islamofasism - indeed, many argue that fasism is closely related to democracy, or that all democracies will inevitably become either fasist or communist. I think the NRxers are worried that ISIS have a better civilisation than us in certain key respects, largely involving demographics, which will eventually allow them to defeat us.

I also think the important difference is that NRxers generally claim to want to be left alone, and would probably be content to, at most, exile gays for instance. ISIS, OTOH, is following an old principle that states they can never sign peace treaties with infidels, and will kill rather than exile those it hates.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-25T12:52:30.480Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you buy the idea that fundamentalism can be coupled with technological advancement

It can be coupled with "lone genius" types of advancement but not with more systematic ones. Probably they are unable to stand on the lone genius's shoulders, fundamentalism requires you either worship him and do not dare to revise and improve his work, or to ignore/hate. This is because these lines of thought are very strongly focused on authority, focusing more on who says it not what is said. So if a lonely genius impresses them sufficiently they will either worship him and his work and never dare to improve on it, or ignore/hate.

This is a very easy failure mode for humans. Probably vast majority of Westerns would not really dare to try to improve on what Einstein figured, out of too much respect. Thankfully it is not so in academia.

comment by seer · 2015-03-26T21:28:01.590Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

To a mildly rational person, the conflict fueling the rise of the Islamic State, namely the doctrinal differences between Sunni and Shia Islam, is the worst kind of Blue/Green division. A separation that causes hundreds of billions of dollars (read that again) to be wasted trying kill each other.

Would you apply the same logic to say the doctrinal differences between say Welfare-State Librelism and Communism (or Nazism)? Or this is just a case of "all ideologies that aren't mine look alike to me"?

Fundamentalism has never stopped a country to achieve technological progress: think about the wonderful skyscrapers and green patches in the desert of the Arab Emirates

How is the UAE fundamentalist? I don't see what standard you are using the applies to the UAE that wouldn't apply to nearly the whole world pre-1950 (and possibly even pre-1990).

•What do Neoreactionaries think of the Islamic State? After all, it's an exemplar case of the reactionaries in those areas winning big. I know it's only a surface comparison, I'm sincerely curious about what a NR think of the situation.

By a remarckable co-incidence Jim has recently posted a blog post on this very subject.

Edit: Also this post for his attitude on Islam in general.

comment by MrMind · 2015-03-27T09:10:32.847Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Would you apply the same logic to say the doctrinal differences between say Welfare-State Librelism and Communism (or Nazism)? Or this is just a case of "all ideologies that aren't mine look alike to me"?

No, I think those divergences are essentially different, being about something that at least exists.

How is the UAE fundamentalist?

The main doctrinal current of Islam in the UAE is wahhabism, which, quoting Wikipedia, is described as "orthodox", "ultraconservative", "austere","fundamentalist","puritanical". Let's also not forget that UAE are ISIS' main financer, and the country where 9/11 terrorists came from.

By a remarckable co-incidence Jim has recently posted a blog post on this very subject.

I kind of see where that post comes from. Although I think its commenters have seen too much in it, it's harder to remain level-headed when the threat is coming closer and closer (literally, in the case of my country).

comment by Salemicus · 2015-03-27T15:21:30.586Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The main doctrinal current of Islam in the UAE is wahhabism

Are you sure you don't mean Saudi Arabia? The UAE is not a Wahhabi country.

Let's also not forget that UAE are ISIS' main financer, and the country where 9/11 terrorists came from.

This is balderdash. The 9/11 terrorists came overwhelmingly from Saudi Arabia. ISIS gets its funding mostly from the territory it controls and its foreign backers are mostly in Saudi and Qatar.

Do you know anything about the UAE?

comment by MrMind · 2015-03-30T07:12:00.624Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are you sure you don't mean Saudi Arabia? The UAE is not a Wahhabi country.

Yes, I was mistaken about the two. Saudi Arabia was the country I was talking all along...

comment by MrMind · 2015-03-25T14:20:33.328Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What's with the strange "barney" comments? A worm? Sloppy NSA eavesdropping?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-25T14:37:17.430Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sadly it just looks like ordinary forum spam to me (since there is a URL mentioned) rather than anything more interesting.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2015-03-25T16:14:23.271Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Spam. Removed.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-25T13:00:26.707Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think that their particularly violent brand of jihadism is a worse menace to the sanity waterline than say, other kind of religious movements, past or present?

We need to understand empathically what they are thinking and how they are feeling in order to build predictive mind-models. Can we? I can't. I am unwilling to believe people simply buy into the most possibly uncharitable reading of a holy book purely because of murky theological reasons. They could be like some nice farmer dude in Indonesia, reading the same holy book. The difference is not in the book. (I used to learn Indonesian folk dancing at their embassy. They are super normal people, if there was any hint of weird, it was more about too much respect for Sukarno than too much religion. So it is evidence that it is not simply so that reading that kind of holy book really efficiently makes people want to kill infidels.)

It is possible they are just doing it for the advantages it brings + the hell of it. Adventure. Excitement. Power.

It is also possible the men are extremely sexually frustrated. Higher-status men keeping harems and most guys there seeing no chance to find a woman or something like that. When men are violent and angry, that is one of the first causes to check. A huge chunk of evolution went into men competing with each other for women, so it is reasonable to start investigating abnormal behavior from there.

comment by chaosmage · 2015-03-25T17:38:49.443Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You sound like you'd benefit from, and enjoy, this long interview with IS expert Graeme Wood.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-25T21:31:55.795Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A huge chunk of evolution went into men competing with each other for women, so it is reasonable to start investigating abnormal behavior from there.

I think "crush the inferior Others and take their women as slaves" is more the norm than the exception on historical time scales.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-26T08:19:37.337Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is one of the harshest truths to swallow, but unfortunately it does seem likely. We know little about the ancestral environment, but early recorded civilizations are rife with bride-kidnapping (alive as an fake ceremony / playful wedding game even to this day), Sabine women, Greek legends about princess Europa, and so on. Perhaps we could try to argue this is a feature of early civilization and not of the ancestral environment, or we could try to argue Indo-Europeans are unusually aggressive (this, independent from the issue here, seems at least 30-40% likely to me) but the Yanomamö would disagree.

Rollo Tomassi probably takes it way too far when we argues women evolved to actually like this, I find it more likely that the effect on romantic relationships is not as much as a Stockholm-syndrome falling in live with the kidnapper but falling in love with the kind of guy who can be a useful protector against kidnappers. I mean, that predicts polygamy in e.g. Islamic societies just right - nobody really dares to kidnap the emir's wives. The research showing that the most attractive guys are those who are dominant out-tribe but nice, friendly and easy-going in-tribe seems to support this, it fits the kidnapping-protector role better than the kidnapper role. There is something I have also noticed in soccer (team sports are quite good simulations of the ancestral environment IMHO): leadership, alpha-stuff is used to organize defense mostly, offense is more often a lone-hero thing. It takes only a small band to sneak in kidnap a few brides, but it takes a whole tribe to organize defense against it, so the leader-alpha types are more defense than offense oriented IMHO so not that aggressive. This is largely where the RP-sphere goes wrong.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-26T17:58:56.198Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is one of the harshest truths to swallow

Or, you could look at it as a sign of progress that has been achieved moving away from a savage evolutionary history.

Rollo Tomassi probably takes it way too far when we argues women evolved to actually like this

But the evolutionary pressures are probably in that direction.

but falling in love with the kind of guy who can be a useful protector against kidnappers... the leader-alpha types are more defense than offense oriented IMHO so not that aggressive.

While they wouldn't start with violence, because they would expect submission, I doubt the dominant alpha leaders were in the business of taking no for an answer.

comment by satt · 2015-03-27T04:39:13.688Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

early recorded civilizations are rife with bride-kidnapping (alive as an fake ceremony / playful wedding game even to this day)

And some later ones, too.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-26T09:26:29.538Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

we could try to argue Indo-Europeans are unusually aggressive (this, independent from the issue here, seems at least 30-40% likely to me)

That sounds like an overestimate. As far as I've seen, the Indo-European expansion was just the first of the steppe hordes -- weren't they the first to domesticate the horse?

Also, isn't it possible that women could have evolved to like both the kidnapper and the guy who can protect her from the kidnapper?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-26T09:48:09.729Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What I have in mind is more like Thucydides' chilling explanation how the early Ancient Greeks simply did not understand the term peace, engaging in constant piracy against each others ships and villages, and peace was invented as side-effect of military alliane against a third polis. Was the whole world as bad as that?

comment by Thomas · 2015-03-25T10:35:53.229Z · score: -5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Do you buy the idea that fundamentalism can be coupled with technological advancement, so that the future will presents us with Islamic AI's?

No. Almost by definition there will be no technological advancements there.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-03-26T00:09:45.122Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can you expand on your reasoning?

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-03-25T14:44:54.024Z · score: -8 (20 votes) · LW · GW

Toxic religions do exist, and they can become existential threats. Frankly I don't have a problem with stomping on Islam - HARD! - before we see land wars with Muslim armies on the European continent again. I also favor immigration restrictions to keep Muslims out of Western countries.

We really should put more effort into studying and learning from history as a corrective to fantasizing about transhuman futures. The experience of applying prophylaxis to Islam as a nuisance cult could come in handy for dealing with this sort of thing if another dangerous religion emerges in a few centuries.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T14:52:01.445Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Frankly I don't have a problem with stomping on Islam - HARD!

The country with the largest Muslim population in the world is Indonesia. Followed by India. Go stomp.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T19:08:34.568Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If the point of this comment is that the US, or the west in general, does not have the power to invade these countries, given the political will, then I'd say this is factually wrong.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-03-26T00:08:03.372Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I believe the primary point was that these aren't the countries where problematic Islamic extremists are apparently centered. But there may be a bit of a deliberate ambiguity on Lumifer's part on what the point was.

comment by fezziwig · 2015-03-25T21:58:14.807Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect that the point was that the typical Muslim, insofar as there is such a thing, is not an arab. The founder was an arab, the Muslims on American TV are almost all arabs, but in the modern world the two concepts are less related than one might think.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2015-03-25T19:15:56.953Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why on Earth would the West want to invade Indonesia and/or India?

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T20:15:57.356Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I think advancedatheist wants them to.

comment by seer · 2015-03-26T23:17:00.970Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Could you at least pretend like you are trying to engage in reasonable debate.

The country with the largest Muslim population in the world is Indonesia. Followed by India. Go stomp.

The Indonesian Muslims are for the most part not the ones being problematic. As for India, the Indian Hindus are already (mostly) dealing with the problematic Indian Muslims.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-27T14:33:39.731Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Could you at least pretend like you are trying to engage in reasonable debate.

Not with this beginning, I couldn't.

comment by satt · 2015-03-27T04:47:03.858Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Could you at least pretend like you are trying to engage in reasonable debate. [...] The Indonesian Muslims are for the most part not the ones being problematic. As for India, the Indian Hindus are already (mostly) dealing with the problematic Indian Muslims.

I would think this complaint is better directed at advancedatheist than Lumifer. If advancedatheist had some specific subset of Muslims in mind, they could & should have been more specific than "Islam", "Muslims" and European land wars with unspecified "Muslim armies".

comment by seer · 2015-03-27T06:55:04.119Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It was pretty clear from context what he meant.

comment by satt · 2015-03-28T18:53:32.457Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I submit that it wasn't in fact clear that advancedatheist was referring to the specific subset of Islam/Muslims you have in mind, as evidenced by

  • 2 of the 3 direct replies to advancedatheist interpreting advancedatheist generally, rather than as you've interpreted them
  • advancedatheist writing in generalities like "Toxic religions" (rather than e.g. "Toxic branches of religions") and "immigration restrictions to keep Muslims out" (rather than e.g. "immigration restrictions to keep fundamentalist Muslims out")
  • other people having called out advancedatheist before for making political comments not very relevant to the surrounding context, suggesting that context isn't a reliable guide to interpreting advancedatheist

I also notice advancedatheist didn't respond to Lumifer or NancyLebovitz along the lines of "you're misunderstanding/misrepresenting me, I actually only mean such-and-such a subset of Muslims".

comment by knb · 2015-03-25T18:32:40.052Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It amazes me that people think this scenario of Muslim armies invading and conquering Europe is even slightly realistic. Of course that doesn't mean there won't be terrorism. But military invasions are a complete fantasy. This particular fantasy is something I see frequently among US conservatives.

I think it is worth pointing out that the Islamic State only came to power due to previous Western attempts to "stomp on" Muslim countries--the invasion of Iraq and attempts to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2015-03-25T21:24:12.761Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It amazes me that people think this scenario of Muslim armies invading and conquering Europe is even slightly realistic.

The first "invasion" is transformation by differential birth rates. Might have some armies crossing borders after that.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-25T17:16:02.078Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Please think about the practicalities of attacking a billion people (many of whom have armed governments) if you can't manage empathy.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T19:06:01.332Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

To be fair:

a) If advancedatheist was the leader of the US, and people would follow him, he probably could conquer or kill a billion through technological superiority without too much difficulty. Guerilla warfare might be less of a problem if, after an insurgent attack, all males of fighting age nearby had their first two fingers cut off, to act as both a deterent against future attacks and to stop them pulling triggers. Brutal? Yes, by modern standards, but very civilised compared to say, imperial Japan.

b) Are rationalist consequentialists meant to view empathy as anything other than 'warm fuzzies' which should be endorsed enough to stay sane, but otherwise ignored?

EDIT: Am I trying to say that empathy is wrong, or am I employing the Socratic method? Who knows?

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T19:37:58.217Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If advancedatheist was the leader of the US, and people would follow him, he probably could conquer or kill a billion through technological superiority without too much difficulty.

That I would probably describe as a technofetishist fantasy set in some dystopian universe. Do you think it's relevant to reality?

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T20:09:10.716Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, unless any of us have the ability to substantially alter politics, none of this is relevant to reality.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T20:16:33.178Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're conflating whether you have an accurate map and whether you can actually travel.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T20:23:06.259Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I would say that if "relevant to reality" means an accurate map of a counterfactual, then yes, my "technofetishist fantasy set in some dystopian universe" is relevant to reality.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T20:34:03.827Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

if "relevant to reality" means an accurate map of a counterfactual

LOL. All wrong maps are "accurate maps of a counterfactual" :-D

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T20:40:19.182Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But not all "accurate maps of a counterfactual" are wrong.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T20:56:11.237Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

None of them match reality.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T21:04:25.678Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think models such as "If I had caught the bus, then I would have got to the meeting on time" match reality, even though they are describing events that did not happen in reality.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-25T19:27:19.076Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think we've seen some evidence lately that killing is easy, conquest is hard.

In addition to warm fuzzies, empathy is a shorthand for realizing that other people care about their own interests and are more likely to cooperate and less likely to defect if you have some care for their interest.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T20:14:23.665Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If we're going into game theory here, then surely what you want to be signalling is not that you will cooperate, but that you will cooperate iff they cooperate?

Of course, ISIS have already defected, but that doesn't generalise to all of the other billion people.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2015-03-25T20:47:24.623Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You don't want to have a habit of defecting first, and that's what empathy can protect you from.

comment by skeptical_lurker · 2015-03-25T21:49:48.142Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How very postrationalist of you :)

comment by ChristianKl · 2015-03-28T20:14:51.029Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

a) If advancedatheist was the leader of the US, and people would follow him, he probably could conquer or kill a billion through technological superiority without too much difficulty.

That basically assumes war is only about direct fighting strength but not about ideas. In practice winning hearts and minds is important to win wars.

The framing of a cultural war helps organisations like IS immensely in their recruiting efforts. Speaking about how Islam is evil in public in a forum like this has a real effect on the conflict.

comment by Lumifer · 2015-03-25T17:20:23.867Z · score: -7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Please think about the practicalities of attacking a billion people

LEEEEEROOOOOY!!!!

:-D

(this)