Comment by alexm on Left-wing Alarmism vs. Right-wing Optimism: evidence on which is correct? · 2012-04-11T00:04:06.639Z · score: -5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Where did you find right wing optimism?

Our nation is dying, while others are multiplying like rabbits. The true faith lies in ruins, while false religions are spreading like wildfire.Our culture is vanishing under flood of Hollywood filth. Our history is smeared and slandered by liberal liars. Our leaders are either corrupt incompetents or willful traitors. The end is near.

When I read and listen to today's right wing, there is nothing than doom and despair all the time.

Comment by alexm on George Orwell's Prelude on Politics Is The Mind Killer · 2012-04-02T12:13:11.316Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that the US did rather well for itself over those years and the ones that followed, in terms of prosperity and progress and international influence and happiness and just about any other metric you might care to name.

And if you look to policies preferred by the McCarthy and other hardcore cold warriors (WW3 or ceaseless Vietnam and Afgan-like wars all over the world) and value life and well-being of non-Americans, every one of the 205 or 78 or 57 communists on Tailgunner Joe's list deserved to be awarded Hero of the Soviet Union, together with equivalent awards of all nations of Eurasia.

Comment by alexm on Modest Superintelligences · 2012-03-23T19:49:46.156Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

What? Everyone remembers the Albigensian Crusade. "Kill them all, God will know His own." And if heretics won't repent you should expel them or kill them. I agree with the Church on that one. There are demons who would mislead the people, you can't just let them get away with it. You know what happens when you don't kill the heretics? Communism. And communism killed way more people than the Church ever did.

I see you are fan of Marx and Weber. If Protestantism leads to capitalism and capitalism leads to communism, it makes sense to strike at the root of the evil.

Unfortunately, one fact kills the theory - in Catholic countries, communism was extremely strong and popular, while in Protestant ones communist parties were nearly nonexistent.

Comment by alexm on Modest Superintelligences · 2012-03-23T19:49:02.649Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Well, they shouldn't do it anymore, for obvious reasons. But at that time it was a good idea. The Reformation led to a shift in values and political structures that reached one climax with the French revolution

This is the reason why the French revolution happened in Catholic country that followed your advice and extirpated all heresy without mercy.

Comment by alexm on I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions · 2012-03-23T02:53:10.263Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I mean, jeez, have you seen how women behave in the workplace? They crave the occasional spanking.

Indeed, what workplace could be without discipline? Be assured that your boss, just like you, regrets the rotten and degenerate liberal age we are living in and looks forward to the day when he can properly discipline you.

2) Men with guns are always at the ready to take men away who dare discipline their women.

You are stronger than "your women" so you can discipline them at your pleasure. I don't see why you complain when the men with guns, who are stronger than you, discipline you.

Comment by alexm on Global warming is a better test of irrationality that theism · 2012-03-23T02:41:31.344Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

IMHO, the best "test of irrationality" would be acceptance of alternative medicine.

It matters little whether you believe in global warming, but belief in homeopathy, faith healing or anything else that makes you to delay the official thing, will make difference in your life, and not for the better.

Comment by alexm on How likely is Peter Thiel's investment into seasteading to pay off? · 2011-09-03T01:09:16.776Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is there any nation that "rationally and selfishly follows its collective interest"?

Comment by alexm on How likely is Peter Thiel's investment into seasteading to pay off? · 2011-09-01T14:47:24.646Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The quote above? Not obviously wrong, just not even wrong and as unfalsifiable as any proper conspiracy theory should be.

Of the "enemy" regimes listed, US went to war only with Nazis and three of them were valued NATO members. One can call Vietnam and Korean wars in a sense limited, because US refused to use nukes and escalate into full WW3.

I wouldn't comment about Israel, because there is nothing more mind-killing that discussion about Israeli/Palestinian politics :-(

Comment by alexm on Book trades with open-minded theists - recommendations? · 2011-08-30T08:29:21.127Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, but that sounds like motivated stopping to me. Coming up with ways by which blind evolution and guiding divinity might be compatible isn't really hard at all.

What is hard is to make compatible evolution and all-loving divinity. To watch how ones creations torment and devour each other for hundreds of millions of years is not exactly my idea of love.

Comment by alexm on Book trades with open-minded theists - recommendations? · 2011-08-30T08:26:15.364Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The argument from metaethics was outdated from the beginning, at least for Christian apologetic purposes. Moral laws of all tribes and civilizations are compatible and are completely opposed to message of Jesus.

Natural law says: love your family. Jesus says: abandon them and follow me. Natural law: love your friends, hate your enemies. Jesus: love everyone. Natural law: defend yourself. Jesus: do not resist. Natural law: defend your property. Jesus: give up everything etc, etc....

Comment by alexm on Book trades with open-minded theists - recommendations? · 2011-08-30T07:55:34.589Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Even if ignore all problems ofderiving ought from is, there is problem which parts of nature we are supposed to follow.

If Darwin says "kill them all, the strongest will survive", then Kelvin would say "kill yourself, why bother waiting to heat death of the universe?"

Comment by alexm on Book trades with open-minded theists - recommendations? · 2011-08-30T07:42:53.512Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Evolution is no threat to religion.

Evolution, paleontology and geology and biology in general are definitely threat to religion in both forms most popular today - strict Bible/Koran conservative literalist faith and fluffy liberal one.

The first is simply proven wrong - the world was not created in six days, there was no worldwide flood, etc.

And the case for all-loving, all-forgiving god or "spiritual force" is refuted even more decisively.

What is left open is the case for the supreme bastard of the universe, the obssesive-compulsive psychopathic sadist who painstakingly designs 500,000 species of beetles and then watches how they devour each other. ;-)

Comment by alexm on Kill the mind-killer · 2011-08-30T07:24:44.900Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why would abolition of political parties make politics better? Look at politics before modern democracy and political parties. I personally can't imagine something more mind-killing than court intrigues in, say, 18th century.

Comment by alexm on A funny argument for traditional morality · 2011-07-16T20:22:23.191Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I can likewise imagine (and could prefer) a scientific civilization that is freely polyamorous, atheistic, Eugenicist, etc.

Scientific civilization that actually understands science of biology would steer clear of eugenics.

For pure pragmatic reasons - breeding better (whatewer value of "better" you choose) humans would last at least several centuries - and the problem is that you do not know what traits would be needed then.

Here is one actual historical example of human breeding. Had Frederick II and other kings of Prussia continued the work, Germany could well have a race of eight foot tall soldiers - just in time for WWI.

Comment by alexm on Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable · 2011-07-16T20:12:20.528Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Why can't modern Nazis disavow ancient Nazi practice in favor of some true essence that makes sense in modern terms?

One can argue that holocaust denial is an attempt to bring nazism closer to modern ethical values. Real, authentic Nazis were proud of their achievement and would be outraged by thought that their successors would call them a lie.

Why not start your search for the true essence in Lord of the Rings

Some people do :-P

Comment by alexm on Smart, (young), ambitious and clueless -- what to do to maximize goodness? · 2011-07-16T19:40:39.277Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If China is moderate capitalism, one shudders how would extreme one looks like...

Comment by alexm on Smart, (young), ambitious and clueless -- what to do to maximize goodness? · 2011-07-16T19:34:54.271Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm immensely skeptical of the notion that clever people are needed to tell dumb people what to do to achieve what they want

Every system ever devised consists of smart people telling the dumb ones what to do. Even in feudal society with hereditary rule, the thicker-than-brick kings were manipulated by smart barons and courtiers :-P

Caveat lector: I'm reading Atlas Shrugged right now.

Generalization from fictional evidence

Comment by alexm on Transsexuals and otherkin · 2011-07-16T19:11:01.136Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There are also people who feel they are Jewish, but other Jews would probably disagree ...

Comment by alexm on Enhanced brain connectivity in long-term meditation practitioners · 2011-07-16T19:04:56.456Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Careless downvoting (and upvoting) is something one can expect from new members. Veterans know that voting is serious thing that is done after deep deliberation and soul searching, but for a newbie, it is just click.

Speaking from my own experience (not that I would dare to call myself veteran)

Comment by alexm on My true rejection · 2011-07-16T18:56:57.947Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For pure pragmatic reasons, peaceful methods would be still preferable to violent ones...

Why Terrorism Does Not Work

This is the first article to analyze a large sample of terrorist groups in terms of their policy effectiveness. It includes every foreign terrorist organization (FTO) designated by the U.S. Department of State since 2001. The key variable for FTO success is a tactical one: target selection. Terrorist groups whose attacks on civilian targets outnumber attacks on military targets do not tend to achieve their policy objectives, regardless of their nature. Contrary to the prevailing view that terrorism is an effective means of political coercion, the universe of cases suggests that, first, contemporary terrorist groups rarely achieve their policy objectives and, second, the poor success rate is inherent to the tactic of terrorism itself. The bulk of the article develops a theory for why countries are reluctant to make policy concessions when their civilian populations are the primary target.

Comment by alexm on An Outside View on Less Wrong's Advice · 2011-07-08T16:57:15.833Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Burkean conservatism translated into modern philosophical jargon. This argument would apply only to religions that are at least centuries old. How many of these remain in unchanged form in modern Western world?

Comment by alexm on An Outside View on Less Wrong's Advice · 2011-07-08T16:50:53.786Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe in the 80's, when we were only a few Satan worshipping nuts, but we are now in 21st century where science fiction and fantasy decisively won and is The Mainstream Culture now. Of 10 biggest grossing movies of the year, all are F/SF and role playing games are worldwide multibillion industry. Someone who does not know who is Harry Potter and what is Warcraft is the crazy weirdo :P

Comment by alexm on An Outside View on Less Wrong's Advice · 2011-07-08T05:16:02.738Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Here is fake nonconformist and here is real one.

Comment by alexm on Reasons for being rational · 2011-06-30T14:30:21.499Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's actually unclear to me that religion does more harm than good

For quick and dirty empirical evidence, look at latest european poll Do countries on the top of table with least belief in God, spirit or life force behave more rationally?

Comment by alexm on Simulation Argument errors · 2011-06-10T19:47:56.415Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Our current civilization runs lots of computer simulations, nearly all of them are for entertainment purpose. For one "ancestor simulation" trying to be accurate there are millions of WoW and other games with no attempt of realism whatsoever.

Therefore, we if we are in simulation, we are orcs and trolls waiting to be slaughtered by players for few measly XP :-P

Comment by alexm on [SEQ RERUN] Lotteries: A Waste of Hope · 2011-06-01T07:35:52.372Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Buying lottery ticket as a purchase of fantasy is irrational - fantasy is for free. You can dream about being a millionaire without spending money on tiny scrap of paper :P

Comment by alexm on Should we have secular churches? · 2011-01-21T20:16:12.513Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are not the first one to come with this idea :-)

Comment by alexm on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) · 2010-08-29T01:01:19.189Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Why? You cannot change the laws of physics and they have no impact of your daily life either.

Comment by alexm on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) · 2010-08-28T10:50:44.578Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You can say the same about astronomy, biology, chemistry, history and just any part of human knowledge that does not interfere with your daily life.

Imagine someone who could not find his country on map, does not know who is president or PM, does not know how his government functions, does not vote because he does not understands what are elections.

Is such person worthy of admiration or respect? I do not think so.

Comment by alexm on Open Thread, August 2010 · 2010-08-02T10:23:00.010Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Who regards cryonics as evil like child molestation? General public sees cryonics as fraud - somethink like buying real estate on the moon or waiting for mothership, and someone paying for it as gullible fool.

For example, look at discussions when Britney Spears

wanted to be frozen. Lots of derision, no hatred.

Comment by alexm on Cryonics Wants To Be Big · 2010-07-12T18:00:53.941Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This might depend on how long it takes to develop revival. Any estimates?

It depends on the gap between us and the future society - if the wilder/more optimistic predictions of transhumanism and artificial intelligence come true - and they have to come true for cryonics to work, the gap between 2050 and now will be bigger that between us and Stone Age.

Would you invite your great...grandfather Ugg for dinner?

Comment by alexm on Cryonics Wants To Be Big · 2010-07-12T17:54:32.907Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I hear this from cryo skeptics all the time. Doubts -- not so much as to whether it >works or not, but as to whether the patients who could be revived are human or not.

No, the question is whether the advanced posthuman civilisation will see the frozen primitive men as human beings.

How many resources are we spending to save and improve lives of apes?

If cryonics works in the first place, it means everyone who could be preserved but >isn't, is a human casualty

The purpose of cryonics , at least as as advertised here, is to save specifically your life, not humanity in general. And, for the purpose, is simply better to be one of a few rare specimens than one in a mass.

and everyone who could be reanimated but isn't is stuck in a coma against their will.

why would they care about our will?

Death will then be viewed as something extremely uncommon and in need of >extremely good evidence before medical procedures and ethics can be cast aside.

death of one of them, yes, but one of us?

Comment by alexm on Outside the Laboratory · 2010-07-12T17:29:35.684Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, I know someone who became interested in paganism, tested it by >believing in it, and found it worked, so continued to believe.

how paganism worked for him? pagan rituals were cool and pagan chicks were hot, or something more? :P

Comment by alexm on Outside the Laboratory · 2010-07-12T16:38:37.904Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The bigger problem is that accepting Pascal wager is just first step on the road to faith. And walking the road means to live and pray as if you had faith.

Somewhat, I do not see this guy doing it...

Comment by alexm on Outside the Laboratory · 2010-07-12T16:34:25.412Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


as interesting as picking up rocks and observing insects crawling under them, IMHO

|Never head of this guy. Link?

most of his works are online, in Russian of course, links from Russian wiki page

Comment by alexm on Outside the Laboratory · 2010-07-12T15:38:59.615Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

why? how do you measure that P of caring personal god who saves human souls from extinction is higher that P of unthinking mechanism ("akashic chronicle", "reincarnation wheel") doing the same?

Comment by alexm on Outside the Laboratory · 2010-07-12T15:37:41.982Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For real life example: one Russian kook preaches exactly this doctrine - strong atheism combined with strong belief of immortality of souls. Add holocaust denial, moon landing denial and admiration of Stalin as greatest hero that ever lived and you have something that sells dozens of books and gains many dedicated followers. Any more about him would belong to "irrationality quotes" thread if one existed...

Comment by alexm on Cryonics Wants To Be Big · 2010-07-12T13:15:24.813Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Cryonics wants to be small, or why should the future want you?

All this technical discussion misses what I see as the major problem of cryonics if it works as advertised - why should the future want us?

Imagine if today were discovered few frozen Homo habilis and had technology to revive them. After, they would spend their lives in comfortable zoo that is paradise by ape men standards ( plentiful food! no dangerous beasts! warm shelter!)

Now try the same scenario, but with few millions of our frozen ancestors. The results will be same - at best, few dozens would be picked to be resurrected and studied, but I cannot see us welcoming millions of new hairy citizens.

Conclusion - to me it seems that if you want to maximize chance of future society resurrecting you, keep cryonics as close guarded secret of tiny elite...

Comment by alexm on Outside the Laboratory · 2010-07-12T12:34:08.219Z · score: 0 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Good for you. Now you only have to renounce all pride, glory and luxury and spend your life praying for the gift of faith. It will eventually come, as Pascal reassures us.

(scroll down to note 233 for Pascal's famous wager argument in its full context)