To Speak Veripoop

post by thre3e · 2011-07-18T02:50:14.816Z · score: -18 (27 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 34 comments

From the sociological point of view I cannot imagine a world without compulsory, god declared, laws for basic behaviors, such as sex-related, murder-related, and god-worship related behaviors. My outlook comes from my certainty that some minds are susceptible to the seeking of such compulsions, and my certainty that some other minds are susceptible to a need to supply such compulsions, sometimes as themselves as the authority, and sometimes as representatives of higher authority. The latter group always seems to produce some very successful iterations, from Moses to Jim Jones. . . As it is said in commerce, if there is demand, there will always be folks who will make it a life quest to supply that demand.

If what I'm saying has bases in fact, and if the atheistic challenge is to disenfranchise, dis-empower, organized religion, and other publicists of drivel, then how can mere logical, rational, rhetoric be looked to in order to bring about this goal? It seems evident to me that such rhetoric does not have the needed determinants to effect the goal. Rationality cannot seem to supply the needed compulsions. Thus, rationality goes unheeded.

I have an idea for a possible solution. What if we successfully substituted a new word for truth. What if it became common to say VERIPOOP in place of VERITAS? From that small acorn might grow reexamination of the human faculty for knowing, and claiming truth. It should be obvious to all, that we humans do not have a truth-knowing faculty. We can only know human level truth, which is always temporary and finitely circumscribed. Grass was known to be green for a long time in history, but, as we all know, green is not a property of grass any more. Nature supplies color only to those who are not color blind. Greenness is a human thing, not a grass thing. Reflecting white light at a certain wavelength is intrinsic to grass, but not color. We humans can know only truth that is bound to change in time, but "real" truth cannot change. It is already truth. Where else could it go?

Yes, there are mathematical proofs that would present themselves as truth forever. But it's easy to overlook the fact that all scientific and mathematical pronouncements are abstracts of reality. They may be correct within the confines of the postulates that undergird them, but reality is greater than any finite number of postulates. Further, postulates are arbitrarily chosen. Parallel lines may never meet, or always meet, or meet just under specified specified conditions. Therefore, that which is correct is not necessarily truth.This is a fact about the human knowledge horizon, the human condition. The horizon, wherever one draws it, however far we might advance in knowledge, is inexorably there. Yet the wild eyed compulsion addicts are willing to die for what? Why it's their "truth," of course. So, I say that the very word needs to be expunged, because, amazingly, every time it is uttered, it presents a lie. It claims that someone has corralled truth.

VERIPOOP would put us in our place. A new appreciation may develop of the human knowability horizon. How can one be an extremist when one knows that what one proclaims with vehemence is VERIPOOP? It seems to have a calming effect. Scientific veripoops are wonderful. The fact that presently the scientific method doesn't allow truth to be considered truth forever, as it did when science was in the hands of the compulsive knowers of Europe, (e.g. the Galileo problem), is also wonderful. But there is no other word available currently. Science must call its temporary findings truth, especially on true or false tests. Yet the facts show that they are a step down from truth. They are VERIPOOP!

 

34 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by J_Taylor · 2011-07-18T09:26:25.698Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do not mean to offend. However, your particular style of writing would not be considered standard within the fields in which I am familiar, nor is it considered standard within Lesswrong. As such, if you wish to make yourself better understood, you may wish to revise your style.

comment by MixedNuts · 2011-07-18T10:37:00.621Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Huh. This is the first case I have seen of "I do not mean to offend. However," actually meaning its denotation. You gain a permanent +1 Charisma boost.

comment by gyorgy · 2011-07-18T19:44:03.258Z · score: -7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

i DON'T GET IT.

comment by thre3e · 2011-07-18T15:44:48.991Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I must confess that I went for substance and not style. Would you mind spending a moment and letting me know what your problem is with the style? No offense taken. I promise.

comment by KPier · 2011-07-18T16:41:10.398Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

For example:

My outlook comes from my certainty that some minds are susceptible to the seeking of such compulsions, and my certainty that some other minds are susceptible to a need to supply such compulsions, sometimes as themselves as the authority, and sometimes as representatives of higher authority.

This sentence is problematic both stylistically and in terms of substance. You make two assertions (some minds seek religious compulsions and some minds need to supply them) without providing any warrant beyond your own certainty. If it is indeed the case that some people are psychologically dependent on religion (not just because they think they are, or think they should be, or have never really considered the question) that would be of interest to most people on LessWrong. Link to studies that back this up.

Stylistically, the sentence uses unnecessarily vague and wordy language. The line " some minds are susceptible to the seeking of such compulsions" requires the reader to figure out a lot by themself. Mind-design space is enormous; no one will contest that a mind could exist that requires religion. Assuming your assertion is specific to humans, try "some people" instead of "some minds". Next, what does it mean to be "susceptible to seeking compulsions"? Under my understanding, a compulsion is a strong desire or need to do something, not something you would seek in itself.

"Some people feel compelled to seek religion, and other people feel compelled to spread religious memes" seems to get across the point of the sentence with fewer words and less ambiguity. If this accurately summarizes your intent, you could try going through the rest of the article and making similar changes.

comment by thre3e · 2011-07-19T17:21:03.555Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I cannot help but wonder whether or not you stopped reading after the second sentence. Right after that short first paragraph the piece states that everything that follows depends on whether the personal outlook I had stated has merit. If yes, then I stated a possible solution which, due to clever word-smithing, is supposed to indicate that what is to follow is in at least semi-jest. No assertions were made in the piece, so I can't imagine how you found yourself burdened by unsubstantiated assertions.

comment by KPier · 2011-07-21T02:34:53.427Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think I now understand our main point of disagreement. Claims backed only by personal opinion are still assertions. (I should add that there's nothing wrong with posts in the discussion session relying on personal feelings and results, as long as you avoid generalizing from one example and other-optimizing.)

For an article predicated so heavily on the assumption that religion is necessary and inevitable, a failure to explain how you reached that conclusion is confusing. Presenting a controversial premise without explaining how you arrived at it is likely to result in downvotes, which I urge you not to take personally. The rest of the downvotes likely come from the lack of clarity, which (I think) just makes it harder for people to realize that your article was "at least semi-jest". You seem a little shell-shocked at the reaction to this post; downvoting just means "I want less of this", not "I hate this" and certainly not "what an idiot".

I hope this is helpful for understanding the LessWrong reaction to your post.

comment by tamara · 2011-07-18T20:19:51.172Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"My outlook comes from my certainty that some minds are susceptible to the seeking of such compulsions, and my certainty that some other minds are susceptible to a need to supply such compulsions, sometimes as themselves as the authority, and sometimes as representatives of higher authority."

This sentence is wordy indeed, but it seems to express a specific thought that is not expressed with as much clarity in your version. Prior to that sentence she/he is first admitting that his/her own certainty is the only foundation the reader shall receive, and she admits that the following shall denote no more or less than the limits of his/her imagination. Then she/he references the previous sentence as example of a type of compulsion that may or may not have a religious component, though I understand why you combined the given examples into religion. .

comment by KPier · 2011-07-18T20:41:39.098Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

[EDIT: It appears that thre3e created several accounts to promote eir own post. I'm leaving this here, but I won't be engaging further since it doesn't appear Tamara is a unique user.]

Fair enough. Perhaps a better summary of thre3e's sentence would be:

I feel that some people depend on religious laws and expectations for behavior, and some people feel compelled to spread religious memes (either to bolster their own authority or that of a higher power).

(I would later develop the specific examples of "sex-related, murder-related, and god-worship related behaviors.)

You're probably right that thre3e's declaration of "certainty" was intended to signal the basis for eir assertions, but declarations of "certainty" set off alarm bells in my head, especially when they are presented without evidence.

But my intent isn't to put words into thre3e's mouth; if I'm not expressing eir ideas properly, I hope ey will correct me. I'm just trying to express what stylistic issues with the original may have detracted from clarity.

By the way, Welcome to Less Wrong!. You should introduce yourself; it's free karma.

comment by Pavitra · 2011-07-18T06:50:49.810Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Five tons of flax.

comment by Zetetic · 2011-07-18T07:11:30.436Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hail Eris.

comment by prase · 2011-07-19T16:26:55.380Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have downvoted this.

First, as I understand, in the beginning you state the problem P: rationality isn't attractive enough to become everybody's substitute for religion. Then you propose the solution S: replace "truth" by "veripoop". I fail to see how S solves P. According to your following arguments, S avoids some conflicts between theists and rationalists, but that's a different problem from P. We already have tools to avoid the conflicts which work similarly to your proposal (although people are generally too snobbish to say "veripoop" and rather prefer the phrase "separate magisteria"), but many rationalists oppose such policies because they are detrimental to solving S. The goal isn't to be free to pursue science without much harassment by religious fanatics - this we already have, at least in the developed countries. The goal is to spread true beliefs, and by forgoing the use of "truth", you strip science of the powerful persuasive connotations of this word.

Second, beginning your argument by "I cannot imagine" doesn't seem to be a good idea. Most targeted readers probably can imagine a more rational world, and an argument is worth having only if both parties share the premises. You should have gone deeper and provide a justification for your stated certainty, such that the whole structure doesn't stand on lack of imagination. (The point was already made by other commenters.)

Third point is that you assume that some people need religious beliefs and then act as if that implied no space for further improvement ("how can mere logical, rational, rhetoric be looked to in order to bring about [disempowering organised religion]?") . But rationality was historically succesful in disempowerig organised religion and you have not shown that today all people who could be deconverted by logic already have been.

Fourth, although we can never be absolutely certain, I suspect that talking about imperfections of human knowledge the way you do it hardly clarifies anything. It is even not clear what you mean by "truth" and what is your point here. "Truth" is only a word and we use it in certain situations. Do you object to that? For example, do you think that the utterance "I think this proposition is true" is somehow inherently wrong and should have "true" substituted by "human-level true" or "veripoop" or whatever, in everyday language? If so, what uses would there remain for "true"?

Fifth, your example with greenness of grass is a fairly typical instance of a definition dispute (in this case the equivocation is in "green") and has little to do with limits of human knowledge, which you seem to be discussing there.

And of course there are formatting issues. You have probably copied the text from some more advanced editor, which is responsible for the non-standard font and paragraph separation. It makes the text more difficult to read. I would also prefer emphasis realised by italics to ALL CAPS. I suggest you should change the formatting (perhaps by copying the text to some plain text editor, like Windows's Notepad or Linux's gedit, and then back). Non-standard formatting can slightly bias people against the article even if its content were perfect.

comment by thre3e · 2011-07-19T19:19:43.127Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I give up, because if I have to keep on explaining, then that is proof that I have failed in communication. I never claimed that S solves P. You have to read more carefully and derive a better understanding of the spirit of the thing. I said "I have a possible solution." I said "what if we successfully substituted. . ." I never proposed to rid our selves of the "truth" word. It should be clear, but obviously it's not, which is the writer's fault, that when I said that science is one step down from truth, then the truth word, and the concept it stands for, would remain, but a new word, (and more importantly the concept for wehich it stands) would be placed between falsity and truth. Did you really think that this brief piece was meant to be a serious, all embracing analysis?

comment by prase · 2011-07-19T22:01:35.270Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Edit: It seems that thre3e is sort of trolling, given the four new user accounts that first commented under this article (tamara, mind, jozsef, gyorgy - come on, two new Hungarian names in one day) and whose writing style resembles that of thre3e. I leave what I have written so far, but refrain from further discussion. Thanks NMJablonski for pointing out.

Did you really think that this brief piece was meant to be a serious, all embracing analysis?

I didn't know how much serious you were and I suspected that not too much, either because the word you have chosen or because you have sort of denied that. But sometimes I dislike even writings which are not entirely serious. (In particular I don't like things which are difficult to tell whether they are serious or not.)

I never claimed that S solves P. ... I said "I have a possible solution."

When I hear (paraphrased) "there is a problem P; I have a possible solution S", it seems natural to interpret that as "S (possibly) solves P". If I hear "what if we successfully substituted", it seems natural to see it as a polite way to say "we should substitute". (I don't want to argue over it, only am trying to pinpoint from where the misunderstanding may stem.)

science is one step down from truth, then the truth word, and the concept it stands for, would remain, but a new word, (and more importantly the concept for wehich it stands) would be placed between falsity and truth

But science is as close to the truth as one can get, and there are plenty of words which admit the possibility of error if there is a need (hypothesis, claim, conjecture, guess, model, theory). It is not clear what concept you want to introduce which is not already covered by those words.

I give up, because if I have to keep on explaining, then that is proof that I have failed in communication.

If I fail in communication, then that is reason to keep on explaining. You are free to give up if you want of course, and I can well understand it given the overall negative reaction which you haven't expected, but there is nothing dishonourable with continued explanation.

comment by thre33e · 2011-07-20T22:17:24.603Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's still me, thre3e, but the thing wouldn't let me sign in with it. Thank you for the good will that shows up in your reply. I am an old retired academic. I've sat through many heated arguments in the faculty club and lounge, but what I found at this website is absolutely new to me. I think that maybe the best way I can convey why I'm soooo amazed is by rendering a few responses as I expected them to come in. Do you actually think that coining a word would slow down terrorists? Dream on fella! OR Every high school kid knows that we have truth with a capital "t," and we have truth with little "t." Aren't we sufficiently supplied already? OR Who knows what may come from little acorns. OR A cogent argument that would deflate all assertions of absolute truth would be very nice to have. You see? These would speak to the subject, and they would give me a chance to promote the idea, if I were so inclined, which I'm not. But when I get responses that point out to me the difference between a scholarly paper and my quick sharing of a momentary whim with folks I had deemed to be fellow academicians, then I am just taken aback. Thanks again for responding as you did. I understand and agree with your points, especially with respect to academic papers.

comment by orthonormal · 2011-07-18T05:50:35.472Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your post isn't clear enough for me to find our points of disagreement, which probably accounts for most of its downvotes.

Have you read the Map and Territory sequence yet?

comment by thre3e · 2011-07-18T15:59:41.863Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am amazed. Are you telling me that you do not clearly see that I propose the coining of a new word, and why I so propose, and that the piece was written in good humor?

comment by orthonormal · 2011-07-18T17:05:55.383Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can't tell whether your epistemology is joking or serious, though; it seems like you're quite committed to a state of confessed ignorance about many things (which is preferable to one of hubristic certainty, but isn't the best you can do with your knowledge).

comment by mind · 2011-07-18T17:44:23.027Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But what is the best if not confessed ignorance, since heuristic certainty is ruled out?

comment by orthonormal · 2011-07-18T17:56:21.643Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

First, welcome to Less Wrong! (Actually, you too, thre3e!)

The dichotomy is a false dilemma; having quantitative degrees of certainty (which change with the evidence) is a much better solution than either pretending you're completely certain or completely uncertain. The Map and Territory sequence is a good exposition of this.

comment by mind · 2011-07-18T18:16:48.285Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But it seems to me that the article does not promote obviating the need for knowledge, nor leveles of certainty in putting it to use. What I read is that it endeavors to deflate the psychological effect of having the word, jus the word, around, with a substitute word that has built in humor. Thus, it may be more difficult for a terrorist to blow up a building in the name of veripoop than in the name of truth. I like it. :-)

comment by gyorgy · 2011-07-18T19:53:53.497Z · score: -6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's what I got out of it. It's a semi parody. The other half is oh so true. It's a semi satire. The other half is oh so true.

comment by NMJablonski · 2011-07-19T18:18:03.532Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Dude, if you're going to make a dozen accounts to talk up your post, you can't use the same deranged writing style in all of them.

comment by CronoDAS · 2011-07-18T10:46:24.313Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because I can't post an image directly:

http://cheezburger.com/View/4856602624

comment by Bongo · 2011-07-24T16:47:33.003Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

![](image url here)
comment by CronoDAS · 2011-07-25T05:22:02.317Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks. Let's see if I have that right...

Yep, it works!

comment by Zetetic · 2011-07-18T03:03:14.659Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Verigoodidea.

comment by thre3e · 2011-07-19T16:09:30.198Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I must say that coming back two day after posting I'm massively surprised by the negativity. I wish someone would explain to me what the beef is. I mean the piece makes no claims at all so what is there that would need to be backed by references? It offers a few notions that are self evident, such as the abstract nature, and postulated underpinnings of human knowledge. The piece simply asks what would happen if we had a word that stood for what we usually call "truth with a small tee," and offers such a word with an aim at humor. How can such a simple, innocuous piece be so hated? I'm gratified to see though that there are at least some positive comments. Perhaps they actually understood it for what it is.

comment by prase · 2011-07-19T22:23:11.524Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I must say that coming back two day after posting I'm massively surprised by the negativity. I wish someone would explain to me what the beef is.

Most of the "negativity" consists of attempts to explain what problem we have.

I mean the piece makes no claims at all so what is there that would need to be backed by references?

There were claims. At the very least you have claimed certainty about some desires of human minds. Also, this isn't a community of lawyers. If you decorate a claim with weasel phrases like "I can't imagine but" or "might", it doesn't make it a non-claim or extempt you from need to justify it.

It offers a few notions that are self evident, such as the abstract nature, and postulated underpinnings of human knowledge.

What is self-evident for one may not be so for other. Nature of human knowledge is certainly not self-evident.

I'm gratified to see though that there are at least some positive comments. Perhaps they actually understood it for what it is.

It is very probable that those positive commenters are your sockpuppets, as NMJablonski has pointed out. Please, don't troll.

comment by NMJablonski · 2011-07-19T18:21:38.984Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your piece isn't hated, it's just not good.

If you are actually interested in participating in this community, read the sequences. Then read some of the current frontpage material. Then try engaging us again, with one (and only one) username.

comment by prase · 2011-07-19T22:05:43.047Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You formulate it as if reading the sequences was a necessary condition to participate in LW. It isn't.

comment by NMJablonski · 2011-07-22T06:33:15.355Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's not a written rule by any means, but in order to acclimate to the style and reduce inferential distances it's usually a good idea.

comment by jozsef · 2011-07-18T16:58:08.956Z · score: -9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A fine and important idea packaged in a pithy box. Pardon the metaphor.

comment by NMJablonski · 2011-07-19T18:16:22.691Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Downvoted, sockpuppet.