Comment by kat on Two Cult Koans · 2007-12-21T15:13:03.000Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I had a friend in college who was a philosophy major; he'd been raised a fundamentalist Christian, and turned from that into some sort of chaotic evil deist. I used to enjoy arguing philosophy and ethics with him. But the further he got into his study, the more his arguments turned into half-understood quotations of Wittgenstein and Kant, and his debating technique turned into sophistries and trying to name and call out others' logical fallacies, sometimes correctly and sometimes not -- the same techniques he grew up with, only without having to wake up early on Sunday. I don't argue with him anymore...

Comment by kat on The Simple Math of Everything · 2007-11-20T20:38:46.000Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

What I find embarrassing about knowing just a little bit about a subject is that outside of a formal class, there are few places to talk about it; particularly, few places to talk about it with people who will bring your further toward understanding what you've learned. If you learn a little bit of the mathematics of a subject, you're not interesting to the specialists, and most others won't be interested in the subject at all.

It seems easier to find a community around learning things that are less academic subjects, where you'll generally learn them in an informal structure anyhow -- cooking, crafts, foreign languages.

(I do like the idea of The Simple Math of Everything...)

Comment by kat on Torture vs. Dust Specks · 2007-10-30T04:56:38.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The dust specks seem like the "obvious" answer to me, but how large the tiny harm must be to cross the line where the unthinkably huge number of them outweighs a single tremendous one isn't something I could easily say, when clearly I don't think simply calculating the total amount of harm caused is the right measure.