Comment by kobayashi on The annoyingness of New Atheists: declaring God Dead makes you a Complete Monster? · 2011-01-17T13:50:40.017Z · LW · GW

"Freeing yourself" happens when you understand why people have religion, when you ask the questions that bring to light the inconsistencies between belief and behavior, etc. It's not about finding The Truth.

Similarly, "saving the world" operates from the arrogant presumption that what you have is inherently better than what they have. It implies an active belief that they should change, not you. Of course, since you are on the right side, they should look up to you, take wisdom from you, etc. It puts you in a position of power relative to them. Having power over one's fellow man and believing that one has a better knowledge about what is right and what is true is the heart of all that is wrong with religion. Freeing oneself from religion is twofold - rejecting the idea that others hold power over you via their relationship to The Truth, and rejecting the idea that you are superior to others by virtue of your relationship to The Truth. Very difficult indeed...

Comment by kobayashi on The annoyingness of New Atheists: declaring God Dead makes you a Complete Monster? · 2011-01-16T23:36:43.039Z · LW · GW

Raw_Power: " While freeing people from religion is a cause I endorse..."

I don't care enough to downvote either your post or your comment, but I will point out that the only people who are ever truly free from religion are the ones who care enough and/or are strong enough to free themselves. Anyone else has merely transferred their allegiance to a different authority. Quit worrying about saving the world; it smacks of a poor understanding of basic human psychology - both with respect to your own motivations and those of others.

Comment by kobayashi on Rationality quotes: October 2010 · 2010-10-06T23:28:21.553Z · LW · GW

"You can always reach me through my blog!" he panted. "Overpowering Falsehood dot com, the number one site for rational thinking about the future--"

  • Zendegi, by Greg Egan (2010)

Go ahead, down-vote me. It's still paradoxically-awesome to be burned in a Greg Egan novel...

Comment by kobayashi on Be a Visiting Fellow at the Singularity Institute · 2010-05-24T14:21:30.958Z · LW · GW

Email sent some days ago. Comment left for easy karma points. ;)

Comment by kobayashi on Chicago Meetup · 2010-05-22T13:37:11.868Z · LW · GW

Perhaps the two fearless leaders could be persuaded to roadtrip up to the Mad City on another day? :) (I'd like to meet them, and I'm not LW-enough to know what a LW meetup should be...) What say?

Comment by kobayashi on Chicago Meetup · 2010-05-21T12:17:22.744Z · LW · GW

Would definitely consider. Although if there are 3 of us in/around Madison, perhaps the center of gravity for this event might consider shifting a bit N/NW? ;)

Comment by kobayashi on Attention Lurkers: Please say hi · 2010-04-17T15:44:48.891Z · LW · GW


Comment by kobayashi on Rational feelings: a crucial disambiguation · 2010-03-13T14:08:41.914Z · LW · GW

Up-voted, with the following caveat...

Feelings are a communication of information. Ex: Feeling happy about losing your job may reflect 1) your knowledge about the stress the job actually held for you, 2) your desire for change (growth, creativity, etc.)...

Feelings can be probed with thoughts in order to ascertain their origin/meaning. To the extent that this is true, I prefer to think of feelings as a condensed form of communication with the 'rational' mind. 'Here's some information you really shouldn't ignore - SLAM! [Insert feeling.]'

Comment by kobayashi on Splinters and Wooden Beams · 2010-02-28T14:45:45.715Z · LW · GW

(So... html tags don't appear to work in the less wrong comment section. Too tired to find out what DOES work.)

After all, if someone you know is planning to quit her job and move to Alaska because her horoscope told her that Tauruses need more spontaneity, you shouldn't tell her to stay because she's actually an Aries. You tell her to stay because astrology is provably bogus.

(snort) If you didn't care about the truth value of what you were telling her as much as you cared about getting her to change her behavior, you might very well choose to exert influence on her from within her belief system. It invokes less resistance on her part than does trying to tear apart the structure of something she places so much faith in. Provided you could convince her that she was actually an Aries and that this would somehow negate her reasons for moving, you might have a shorter, less-painful battle on your hands with respect to her plans to move than you would if you had to take on the whole system of astrology - it's history, it's advocates, the famous people who've believed in it, etc.

Mind you, this is only a temporary fix until the next time she wants to do something stupid as a result of what the 'stars' tell her, but if you don't have the time for a full-blown de-bunking/brainwashing, it might behoove you to be able to exert influence from within the target belief system.

Comment by kobayashi on Tips and Tricks for Answering Hard Questions · 2010-01-18T14:06:03.432Z · LW · GW

I like the last bit about status, and would add the following...

Kobayashi's Paradox #1: The more you know about one thing, the more you will be expected to know about everything. However, the more you know about one thing, the less you probably actually know about everything else.

Kobayashi's Paradox #2: Status (or your perception of your own status) is inversely proportional to the amount of productive, creative work you will actually get done. (This suggests that perceptions of status do not update as quickly as they should, or are not based upon a current assessment of the person's worth/productivity.) If you need/want to get work done, shun the distractions of 'status'.

Comment by kobayashi on High Status and Stupidity: Why? · 2010-01-12T18:05:23.101Z · LW · GW
  1. High status individuals face more demands on their time/attention, and have less time to update themselves regarding important issues. If they attempt to comment on issues on which they have insufficient information, they may very well appear to be stupid.

(I try very hard to avoid commenting on things about which I know that I know too little.)

Comment by kobayashi on High Status and Stupidity: Why? · 2010-01-12T18:01:50.757Z · LW · GW

What is actually said, word choice, etc. should never be assumed to be 100 % indicative of the speaker's actual motivations in asking a question or making a statement. I play dumb all the time, for a variety of reasons. The majority of those reasons have to do with making the other person comfortable and/or seeking information that would otherwise not come my way.

Comment by kobayashi on Will reason ever outrun faith? · 2010-01-07T18:13:53.939Z · LW · GW

This is a discussion of tactics and strategy, yes? And your complaint is that you don't have access to the same 'weapons' as your opponent?

Perhaps your assumptions about what is necessary to win are wrong. I moved progressively away from religion as I became aware of how limited religion was. (Not God, religion.) Ironically, I had to study religion and philosophy to be able to see this. If you are going to attempt horizontal propagation, then knowledge about religion and its history might be one of your best weapons. Certainly it opens doors to conversations you can't have if your reaction to a believer is simply 'Oh, you poor ignorant fool. I have the Truth; let me tell it to you.'

Do you know how the Catholic/Christian church progressively edited the contents of their canon? Are you familiar with the 'heresies' that were progressively (and violently) quashed by the Church during its history? Do you understand what prompts men to mythologize one of their own, and can you articulate it? The history of the Church speaks for itself, and it doesn't speak well for religion. Once a believer can question the Church/religion, then (and perhaps only then) can a believer question the ideas behind the Church (i.e., God). It may be a huge mistake to assume that you can win by attacking the idea of God first.

(Oh, I will add that reading a great deal of science fiction helped me too. Especially science fiction that dealt with alternative theologies, and the abuse of power within religious hierarchies. If others have had a similar experience, maybe there should be a list of helpful fiction...)