Posts

[Spoilers] How did Voldemort learn the horcrux spell? 2019-04-08T05:03:16.277Z · score: 3 (2 votes)
Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) 2018-11-22T05:09:43.649Z · score: -14 (10 votes)

Comments

Comment by motasaurus on Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism · 2019-06-11T05:24:17.133Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I can think of clear examples where a particular ideological foundation allows for death to be good, without requiring a contrarian or meta-contrarian position. One thought along such lines is whether religion would fall into the contrarian, or meta-contrarian view.

If you ask most 5 year olds, they believe in the metaphysical.

So could a triad be religious/atheist/religious? Or is there an extra level, where the first kind of atheist is the fedora tipping teenager on reddit, then there be a meta-meta atheist, or would perhaps the meta-meta position be agnostic?

Is religion too complex for such an simplification?

Comment by motasaurus on What does it mean to "believe" a thing to be true? · 2019-01-08T00:35:58.997Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the Greek πιστεύω ( pisteuó ) is to believe, and is derived from πείθω ( peithó ) , which is to be persuaded of what is true. There are undoubtedly different strengths and types of persuasion, but I find that this understanding (that is to believe something is to be persuaded of the truth of it) is useful in all situations and contexts.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-12-13T22:59:05.605Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
what is more important is the hard work of closely examining every assumption and every logical step.

I agree. This was merely an introduction.

It reminds me somehow of the way many Christians talk a lot about humility but in practice are extremely arrogant towards non-believers.

I would assign a fairly high probability that this is more annoying to me than to you.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-28T21:25:27.112Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


Note: Sorry for slow replies. I am working in a different city this week and have limited time and access. The problems of life I'm afraid.

If you're using perspective in a different sense, then you're making a different point that I'm not currently following.

I am using the same sense of perspective that you are. I was saying that until actually experienced, the suffering of being hit by a car exists only in the mind of A. It is potential, but not real. B has no concept - or at best no ability to truly imagine - the suffering that would come. From A's perspective they only know the suffering of being restrained from chasing their ball.

You are correct in that if B gets hit by a car, then the suffering will be experienced by B, but the definition that we have used in the sequence of our problem of pain doesn't allow for potential suffering - only suffering that is actually experienced.

I am happy updating our definitive statement to include potential suffering not yet experienced by a person but understood by an outside observer.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-26T04:56:11.112Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
within A's limits, imposing the lesser suffering is the maximally loving option that A has.

This is not so as defined. Suffering is not from the perspective of the one inflicting or reducing it, but from the perspective of the one whom experiences it. A cannot be loving by imposing a lesser suffering from A's perspective - it has to be from the perspective of B.

And from the perspective of B it is not a case of a little suffering now to avoid a potential greater suffering later but suffering now, or no suffering now.

If you would like to update our definition to more robustly include the ability for an outside observer to choose a lesser suffering, while still inflicting suffering, now would be the time.

Alternatively we can continue with the current definition and state that by imposing suffering on B, A is being unloving.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-26T03:26:42.296Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
I feel like you're doing a lot of inquiring as to my position without giving me even a rough idea of your own. Which is a little frustrating, fyi.

I do apologise for the frustration this state of affairs brings. It's not for nothing though, I don't want to be in a position to be accused of dictating the conversation. If I just came in with "we will speak about [x] in such a way that we are forced into a paradigm as defined by [y]" it would be unfair to you, and to anyone reading.

I am trying to minimise this by giving you the power to steer and direct the definitions and the direction of the conversation.

The suffering I want reduced is the suffering experienced from the perspective of the person suffering.

This is an excellent perspective.

To be loving is to - within your power - reduce the suffering of a person, as perceived by them, as much as possible.

I am going to write an example, and ask you if the person "A" is loving.

A small child "B" is in the habit of running across the street after their ball.

Their parent "A" has two options:

If A allows B to continue then A has minimised suffering

If A stops B then A has imposed suffering

Is A loving by allowing B to continue running out onto the road unimpeded?

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-25T23:26:07.247Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
What do you think IS the crux of the discussion?

The axioms that build up to the logical conclusion. I think that what you said there logically follows if the statements that precede it are true.

if you can reduce someone's suffering and don't, you're not loving them as much as you could.

If you are happy doing so I would like to focus on this statement first. My selfish reasons are that it is the easiest for me to discuss and on account of being in the middle of the chain directly influences the statements that come before and after it.

If you will allow our discussion to focus on this statement, I have a question: from whose perspective must suffering be reduced?

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-24T12:30:38.328Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for your definition.

There exists emotional pain

I am content taking this as a given.

much of which does not have enough redeeming side effects to make it preferable over the option of not experiencing it.

I am not sure this works as a statement of fact. Do you think we could try and come to some kind of agreement on a quantitative amount that does not have redeeming side effects? Or better still, how much of a redeeming side effect makes experiencing pain preferable to not experiencing it?

A loving being would seek to reduce that pain

Why? What is the likelihood that a loving being would do so? Does this become prescriptive? Do people who do not do so become unloving beings?

If a being is as ultimate as God is described as, especially if it made the whole system in the first place, then reducing that pain is possible and an all-loving God would have done it.

This follows logically from your previous statements - supposing that they are true. I don't think this is the crux of the discussion.

What are your thoughts? Where would you like to start?

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-24T12:24:51.283Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Why doesn’t this seem to you like a model grounded in empirical evidence?

Aristotle never tested it - never even wrote of the possibility of testing the model. Post-hoc reasoning is not science. It's inventing plausible (to the time) sounding explanations for observations, and then just leaving it at that.

Which is why Aristotle (or any Aristotlean naturalist) never climbed up a cliff and dropped two balls - one made of lead the other of wood.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-23T08:13:50.833Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW
do you remember where he says this?

In Physica - I have missed a part there which I apologise for. Only objects which are made of earth fall toward the noble position of earth - as is their want to be with their own in their own noble position. Things made of air will seek out the heavens (which is why smoke rises), things made of water will seek out water (which is why rivers flow into the sea), and things made of fire will seek out fire. For Aristotle, heavy objects contained more of the element earth - so naturally they moved quickest to reach their natural position.

It's from his argument of natural motions.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-23T06:27:17.408Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am content having the discussion here. I do think this is the appropriate space.

I was hoping that you would be able to posit a specific definition, as opposed to a general boiling down to. One of the difficulties with this is that without a defining example what we are actually discussing may become confused with the examples.

The reason I asked if you would be willing to offer the statement is so that I wouldn't seem to be railroading you into a discussion in my favour. I have an example of such a statement, but I worry that by proposing it the definitive statement I make will become sticky and then influence yours - and so it would seem that I have railroaded you into a discussion in my favour.

I have put an example below. Hopefully hidden in spoiler tags so you can decide for yourself if you want to see it before thinking of your own. If the spoiler tags don't work then you're going to have to choose to not read on.

To be in pain is always worse than to not be in pain. To love someone is to reduce their pain in any way you can. If God loves people He would reduce their pain to zero. Since there is pain, either God is not loving or He is not capable of reducing their pain to zero.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-23T06:04:32.272Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can you explain how the story of Elijah widely changed the entire philosophical culture of the world into which it occurred, resulting in an evidence and testing based approach to natural philosophy?

If my memory serves - and I admit it may not, and I have not looked this up, the Israelites returned to the worship of Baal and the Canaanite gods soon thereafter.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-23T03:03:12.804Z · score: -1 (4 votes) · LW · GW
Motivated reasoning is so obvious and blatant when it concerns beliefs we don't share ourselves.

Isn't it just. If only the OP had prefaced everything with some kind of comment acknowledging that.

what follows is a descriptive narrative of my epistemology not a statement of universal fact (though some facts are contained therein).
Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T23:54:29.156Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
I'm ok with being proselytized

I am not convinced the moderators would be okay with you being proselytized.

Thinking about this and about your question though I have considered ways that we could tangentially discuss it. Would you mind offering a definitive statement on the problem of pain that we could discuss from?

I would rather not discuss from assumptions.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T23:50:40.558Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
I'm not sure exactly what you were hoping for in response to your introduction but I hoped my experience might be interesting to you.

I wasn't hoping for anything. I had expectations that I had assigned prior probabilities to, and could have happily continued on reading without ever mentioning anything of my epistemology. To my mind that was not the rational approach - and the guidelines that are offered are to lay your underlying assumptions bare for discussion so that people can avoid straw-manning one another. This is what I have done.

There is too much else in your comment to dissect each part, and I can't deal with it fairly without dealing with all of it. I do appreciate your experience, and your frankness with me regarding it. It is not my experience though and you have misrepresented me in your mental model here:

To me it feels like you've been discovering something new (rationality) and found a way to fit it into your existing belief system.

We must be wary of what things feel like to us. Toward the end of the story section I wrote that I was doing my best to not believe - and pursued mathematics, rationality, and science toward those ends.

Thank you again for your response.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T19:58:00.374Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah I wrote that as about my 3rd comment.

The reaction to which is the inspiration for an introduction post in the first place.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T19:56:34.482Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have one that I think is rationally valid that would not come across as proselytizing.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T19:50:56.323Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's not too bad. Like most countries it has its own particular problems.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T19:06:41.133Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Funny how we find all kinds of ways to avoid facing uncomfortable questions head on!

Is this prescriptive or descriptive? I did eventually make my way to answer your question head on. You asked me where does your imagination fail and my answer is that my imagination fails on imagining and internally consistent universe that is not internally consistent.

Notice which of those worlds you instantly flinch away from.

I instantly flinch away from neither. I spent approximately fifteen of my first twenty years imagining myself in a world where I was mistaken in my faith. But I did not believe it, no matter how fervently I believed that I believed.

I have no instinctual flinching away from imagining a world in which I do not exist, either. I have imagining a world that is identical to this one (with me in it) in which I do not exist.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T19:00:28.901Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Aristotle used empirical evidence to inform his models

Aristotle claimed heavy objects fell to the ground because they loved the noble positions and wanted to be close to it. He also said that heavy objects would fall faster.

The story of Elijah and the priests of Baal (in which a public experiment is used to falsify one of two mutually exclusive models, implying consistency as the first criterion for truth and correspondence with evidence as the second)

Are you claiming that the God of Elijah is different to Christ?

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T18:56:09.894Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Have you done this?

Not a cliff, but every child who has graduated highschool in my country has done this experiment from the top of a multi-story building.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T18:54:35.117Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have no way of being able to answer this.

It is not, but that is just what you would expect someone you distrust to say. I am new (been reading no more than three months) to this website, and you can check my first post.

But that is in no way convincing to someone who has decided that this is a rewrite from something years back.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T18:52:28.216Z · score: -8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my post.

Moslem countries Islam played a role in science

Islam never developed science. Islam, with a fickle, ever changing god, appears to be epistemologically incapable of developing science. I can find no suggestion in the Qur'an that Allah set his creation in motion and then let it run. It is assumed that he often intrudes in the world and changes things as it pleases him. Most of the influential Muslim scholars have held that all efforts to formulate natural laws are blasphemy for they deny Allah's freedom to act.

That does not mean that religion can take the credit for all the things that its adherents have created, even if the religion is genuinely their motivation.

If a thing is created in only one way by only one religion that has the only world view that enables it to exist, I do not think it is unfair to say that this religion created it.

Who believed that mathematics was not universal?

I can think of no examples, nor did I intend to say that they believed that mathematics was not universal, but that they had no reason to believe that it was so. According to Aristotle, the heavenly bodies move in circles because of their affection for doing so; objects fall to the ground "because of their innate love for the centre of the world."

There was no reason the motives of these objects would remain consistent for all people for all time - just as there was no reason that mathematics which was used to describe the motions would choose to remain consistent for all people for all time.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T09:49:46.506Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for your corrections. I always appreciate anyone who is willing to help me become a better writer.

However, I think it's worth pointing out that there are pre-Christian elements which had an important part to play too.

For logic and reason you absolutely have a point. For science I don't think that the impact was much greater than giving formal logic and a mathematical basis. They lacked not only the investigative spirit that science requires, but the ability to reason that they should investigate.

For a simple example, the earliest heliocentric model was from the Pythagoreans and I can't credit them as having anything like science in its proposition. For the Pythagoreans fire is nobler than earth and the center is a nobler position.  So fire has to be in the center.

Aristotle noted of them that:

In all this they are not seeking for theories and causes to account for observed facts, but rather forcing their observations and trying to accommodate them to certain theories and opinions of their own.
 – Aristotle, On the heavens II.13.293a

This is the same Aristotle who noted that heavy objects should fall faster than light objects on account of their being heavier. Not only did Aristotle never trudge to the top of a cliff with a heavy rock and a light rock of roughly the same shape and an observer down the bottom to see which landed first - the thought never even occurred to him that this was something that there would even be any benefit in doing.

I also think the translation of logos with rationality is unsatisfying and doesn't really capture St John's meaning.

Here (and everything afterward) I agree with you. It misses a great deal of meaning (creativity is missing for one, so too and more importantly is love), but it captures a part of the meaning which I was hoping would be conveyed. Correct me if I'm wrong but rationality is a subset of logos - though logos is greater, rationality is contained within.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T07:47:53.437Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW
A standard Eliezer question: can you imagine the universe exactly the same in all observable aspects, but without anything divine in it? If not, where does your imagination fail?

I have clicked "reply" straight away, but let me ponder the question for five minutes by the clock first.

You question is inherently flawed. It is not a failure of imagination but rather a requirement of imagination that keeps me from imagining the universe exactly the same in all observable aspects, but without anything divine in it.

Are you familiar with Aquinas' five proofs, or Descartes ontological argument?

where does your imagination fail?

I have an answer for this one, but I don't know how to phrase it as an answer. So I beg your indulgence to allow me to pose it as a question to you.

Can you imagine a universe exactly the same in all observable aspects, but in which you do not exist?

That is a universe which:

  • Obeys consistent, rational laws
  • Is internally consistent with itself
  • Has you in it
  • In which you do not exist.

I suppose my imagination fails on imagining an internally consistent universe that is not internally consistent.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T07:22:19.146Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T06:48:08.268Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for the corrections. They have been made.

Are you saying that you don't believe there is any amount of evidence that can sway you?

I do not believe that there is any amount of evidence that can sway me regarding the godhood and resurrection of Jesus Christ, no. It is completely and utterly irrational - yet as deeply held has the belief that "I exist" - and I don't believe that there is any amount of evidence that can sway me on that one either.

Of course there is the ultimate test of both - so I suppose that in that case it would be convincing for the negative but if negative there would be no one left to convince.

Or just that you are extremely confident in the truth claims of your religious belief, and wish to test that confidence with a vigorous battery of discussion?

I consider the dichotomy to be false. While my belief is - at least I believe - unavoidable and absolute, I still wish to test that confidence with a vigorous battery of rational discussion. That key term is the difficulty of course, since my belief that rationality exists is a belief in the godhood and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The latter is my first principals for the former.

Comment by motasaurus on Jesus Made Me Rational (An Introduction) · 2018-11-22T05:49:51.012Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems a bit self-serving to vote your comment up, since it's you saying you don't hate what I wrote.

But I appreciate that you engaged with it instead of dismissing it out of hand. Not that I really expected anyone on a site dedicated to improving rationality to be dismissing posts out of hand... but without evidence you never can be sure.

/edit

It seems my initial thoughts were somewhat realised.

Comment by motasaurus on [Insert clever intro here] · 2018-11-21T20:59:26.779Z · score: -2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Hi Senarin.

I am also new to Less Wrong and also a Christian. I didn't write an introductory post - I guess I'm not "less wrong" enough yet (I didn't actually want to comment at all, having felt I haven't lurked enough). I don't think that there is any conflict between rationality and Christianity - and the writer of the gospel of John certainly didn't believe there to be.

For in the beginning was rationality. And rationality was with God and was God... and rationality became flesh and the world knew Him not.

Comment by motasaurus on Incorrect hypotheses point to correct observations · 2018-11-20T22:01:26.556Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if the desire to justify is the result of social stigma surrounding being the wrong sort of person. If to be a full person is to have reasons for your actions, and to be nice to others, then it makes sense to me that the desire to give reasons for "mean" criticism is a result of wearing the correct model of personhood.

Comment by motasaurus on Schelling fences on slippery slopes · 2018-11-20T20:47:57.507Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
I think experiments like this are too noisy to provide useful conclusions due to numerous confounders.

Thank you. I think you are right. I did not sit down and think through this idea before proposing it. Such an experiment would not just be useless, it would probably be worse than useless. I think it would give meaningless data that could easily be confused for meaningful. I appreciate the correction.

So the choice of where to draw the line on free speech includes a play-off between allowing accurate evidence to be presented and preventing bad faith communication.

I think that this is wise, but perhaps it just comforms to my own opinions. You made not about libel and slander - both of which I agree with your positions on. The difference, as I can fathom it, between being able to sue someone for saying something that is untrue (whomever the burden of proof is on), and making questioning parts of an event illegal, is in the quest for truth.

In the case of a legally protected event, you can never prove whether or not what you are saying is true. In the particular case we are speaking of, even to present true evidence that is 1/googleplex against being false is itself a crime, and the evidence inadmissible in your defense.

I can't comprehend how rationality can hope to propagate in an environment that values social nicety over truth.

Comment by motasaurus on Letting Others Be Vulnerable · 2018-11-20T07:39:44.341Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW
The stuff we keep beneath, then, is disproportionately likely to be the stuff we don’t want other people to see (at least not immediately). Herein lies our fears, our insecurities, our prejudices, and our perversions. It’s going to be things which are more likely to cause disagreement, to make people like us less.

There is a certain type of person who puts all their psycho-emotional prickles and saw-teeth and spikes and off shapes on the outside and wear them like armour. What they present is all the things they dislike about themselves and keep the things that they like inside.

I do not know how frequent this kind of person is compared to the general populace, but I do understand the state of their minds - or at least I can imagine that I do understand them, which is often a near enough approximation to be viable. For such a person being vulnerable looks different. When they open up they open up about things that they like about themselves. For such a person in such a situation the advice given here

This why I think it’s so important to bias towards cultivating a state of mind where you can be appreciative of other people opening up, even when it seems like the more you learn about them, the less there is the two of you have in common.

is so important. I have no data, anecdotal or otherwise, for which has a more negative effect on relationships. I imagine that rejecting the inner parts of someone that they are proud of yet scared to show has a greater detrimental effect than being taken aback by the things that someone is not proud of.

Comment by motasaurus on Schelling fences on slippery slopes · 2018-11-20T03:36:22.365Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for your response. I don't think you are misunderstanding me. I can't present certain evidence or even write too extensively on this topic (which is in part why I phrased everything as a non-specific question in the first place) as there are two publicly known cases where people in the country I live have ended up facing court for writing in a public forum on the internet - one was sent to prison for being the owner of a revisionist website that was hosted in the U.S.

most convictions appear to be for denying the use of gas chambers or for dramatically underestimating the number of dead

In a more general discussion of these examples (as specifics are legally tenuous), were there evidence to the contrary regarding the use of gas chambers or the number of the dead, what is the probability that the discoverer of such would be chilled in their speech from reporting this evidence, compared to were these convictions not in place?

I can think of an experiment to test this - how many people question these facts where the questions themselves are not illegal (the US for example) compared to where they are (Germany)?

The second question is that what is the probability the evidence will be judged on its own merits when people have been convicted for presenting it, compared to when people have not? I can't think of any way to quantitatively evaluate this since we live in a world where people /have/ been convicted for presenting evidence to the contrary.

Leaving aside evaluations of truthfulness, or even the specific topic at hand, what is the effect on encouraging rationalism to society at large when some conclusions are a priori prohibited no matter what the evidence may find?

Eleizer writes in at least one (though it feels like many) of the introductory guides of the dangers of making conclusions before evaluating the evidence - and that this leads humans to reject evidence that doesn't fit the conclusion and seek out evidence that does. Doesn't using legal systems to prosecute conclusions set up a society-wide bias that forces true evidence to be rejected?

Comment by motasaurus on Clickbait might not be destroying our general Intelligence · 2018-11-20T03:20:28.265Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you :)

Comment by motasaurus on Clickbait might not be destroying our general Intelligence · 2018-11-20T03:19:59.022Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Are you saying this is good, is bad, or is happening?

I am saying it is good because it allows experts to focus on their fields. But that I thought that Elizer was pointing out that it can be bad because it doesn't allow for dissemination of those expert ideas to others.

Comment by motasaurus on Clickbait might not be destroying our general Intelligence · 2018-11-19T05:33:49.095Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't figured out how to quote yet. I apologise for this fact. I wanted to mention that I found this, potentially throw-away, line insightful.

"The biologists can stop arguing with creationists, and get down to sorting out the details of kin selection or whatever. The creationists can stop having to pedal creationism to the unconvinced and can get together to work out the difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution."

This sort of thing is how we get places like WUWT exposing the flaws in the IPCCs methods, models, and media pronouncements. It's how we get places like suspicious0bservers creating a model for predicting M7+ earthquake locations with statistically significant regularity - to the point that their work is being picked up by the Chinese, Russians, and NASA.

I think it's incredibly useful for finding not just solutions to questions, but questions that we didn't know needed to be asked. The difficult point, and I think this is what Elizer was getting at, is in disseminating these questions and solutions to the public in such a way that social pressure is enough that something gets done about it.

I don't have an answer for that - but that is probably because I haven't spent at least 5 minutes by the clock thinking about the problem first.

Comment by motasaurus on Schelling fences on slippery slopes · 2018-11-15T11:31:35.761Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I am new to the website. So new that this is my first comment and I didn't even particularly want to sign up. I found it interesting having just come from reading Eleizer's post about 0 and 1 not being probabilities to here I immediately had a question form in my mind.

How certain of a thing do we have to be in order to prescribe that the state be able to end someone's life for their speaking it?

There are several points in this question that require some unpacking. The most prominent being about the state being able to end someone's life. Though people are generally self-seeking and somewhat rational in being so (so taking a prison sentence over engaging in a shootout with police), any action we ask the state to police is then done so with the threat that the state has total authority to use lethal force in the case of serious non-compliance. If we grant that the state has the right to put people in prison for an action, we grant that the state has the right to kill someone for refusing to comply with the states right to put them in prison.

So how certain of a thing do we have to be in order to grant the state the right to kill someone who questions it? Can any story told have a probability of 0 that every part of it is absolutely true in the telling?

In the example used here - specifically the Holocaust and laws against its denial - what quantitative value can we place on a political ideology that had just defeated the rival that existed with the singular aim of ensuring its extinction told no lies? What quantitative value can we place on a victorious military inventing no embellishments about the actions of its vanquished foe? What quantitative value can we place on the testimony of defeated soldiers rendered under torture having no falsehoods? What quantitative value can we place on the anecdotal evidence given at a series of trials that required no corroborating evidence?

As a burgeoning rationalist how can I accept that an event is so true it is illegal to question even one part of the telling thereof?