Comment by omeganaut on Politics is the Mind-Killer · 2011-05-16T19:56:33.340Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Citystates in Greece had to deal with politics that certainly could mean life or death. When the Peloponnesian war broke out, states had to take sides, or risk being hated by both sides, and at risk for invasion and conquering. Rome around the time of Julius Caesar was turbulent, and where supporting the wrong Tribune could mean being put on a wanted list and killed by a bounty hunter when they came to power. In Germany, choosing the wrong side at the wrong time could certainly result in execution for heresay or treason. There are many examples throughout history where competing political views transferred into violence and killing, if not outright war.

Comment by omeganaut on The Futility of Emergence · 2011-05-12T18:58:32.357Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Now that I have read more articles, I understand that most of my issues were due to taking the words with my definition and not hers. The result is that the article seems to be against those with different definitions of emergent, even though there is most likely more than one common definition of emergent, and no definition was previously selected as the correct one.

Comment by omeganaut on Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions · 2011-05-12T18:48:18.593Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How is that a curiosity stopper. Either someone is satisfied with that explanation (like science), or they want to know more about elan vital. Then someone will find that the answer to what elan vital is is either mystical (and therefore bringing religion into the equation) or not known, in which case a curious person would want to find out how Elan vital functions, leading to new discoveries. Similarly now we have forces at the atomic level that we don't understand how they function, and yet quantum theory is generally accepted as truth. How is this different than Elan Vital at the time?

Comment by omeganaut on Savanna Poets · 2011-05-12T18:26:38.316Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with talking about Jupiter being a ball of gas, is that it cannot feel, and emotion is the primary goal of poetry. You certainly can have stories that endure science, but putting a story on Jupiter is not changing the story much at all. One example that I personally enjoy is Star Trek. It dealt with issues in a different way, but they were still the same issues affecting current society. I fail to understand what you are asking future poets to do. Emotion is the same, the only thing poets can do is change the setting.

Comment by omeganaut on Explaining vs. Explaining Away · 2011-05-12T18:06:01.557Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The disconnect here appears to derive from the fact that reductionists have models of the interactions of particles in their minds, which as a system produce the reality we observe directly. Anti-reductionists fail to see that reductionists are accepting the larger model while saying it is composed of items that are not all the same. Also, many are not ready to be able to have a model of reality in which the tiger is composed of interactions that are unbelievably small and have no particular connection to a tiger. When a hostile anti-reductionist attacks reductionism, a reductionist learn to accept that some people have difficulty seeing a rainbow as anything other than a whole rainbow, and cannot see that the systems that make up a rainbow are not modeled so that they are part of a rainbow. The goal should be to agree to disagree, that reductionists can continue to see their component systems, and anti-reductionists can focus on the system as a whole.

Comment by omeganaut on Probability is in the Mind · 2011-05-12T17:38:46.250Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Or here's a very similar problem: Let's say I have four cards, the ace of hearts, the ace of spades, the two of hearts, and the two of spades. I draw two cards at random. You ask me, "Are you holding at least one ace?" and I reply "Yes." What is the probability that I am holding a pair of aces? It is 1/5. There are six possible combinations of two cards, with equal prior probability, and you have just eliminated the possibility that I am holding a pair of twos. Of the five remaining combinations, only one combination is a pair of aces. So 1/5." For future reference the initial phrase "I have four cards" may imply that you have in your possession those cards already. Combined with the fact that you draw two cards afterwords implies that you now have six cards. The simple fact that you are using cards implies that you are using a full deck of 52 cards, unless you specifically say there are only certain cards in play. I just want to clear that up because I had to reread that section a few times before I understood how you came up with your figures.

Comment by omeganaut on Why truth? And... · 2011-05-12T15:24:46.928Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'll be honest, I have a serious problem with hypocrites, and so I warn everyone I know if they start heading down that path. In your article, you say that morality is perhaps the most suspect method of rationality. Yet, you yourself, by putting up these articles and arguing that everyone should use rational thought, seem to have a moral motivation for rationality. I am not saying that this is your only motivation, but it seems to be the motivation behind these posts. However, I do appreciate that you respect morality by mentioning how important it is in pursuing paths that will not result in horrible consequences. I think that maybe you should allow yourself to admit that morality is a good motivator if used with other good types of motivations to seek truth.

Comment by omeganaut on Applause Lights · 2011-05-11T20:08:18.400Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But that in now way implies that they should be ignored.

Comment by omeganaut on The Futility of Emergence · 2011-05-11T19:45:40.867Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You use quarks as your one example of something that is not emergent. However, how can you prove that quarks are not a system of smaller interacting particles? String theory seems to propose that quarks can be broken into smaller pieces which are strings. Maybe its the interaction of the strings that cause the overall action of the quark?
As for emergence, the way I understand Emergence based on this post and the comments is that emergence is a result of the parts of a system interacting with one another, possibly limited to those event that were not predicted. Of course, just because someone uses this inappropriately, does not mean that its wrong. In fact, insisting that a word is terrible just because it was used wrong by some people is obviously an ad hominem argument. Just because some people use it wrongly does not mean it can't be used correctly, and replacing it with magical is simply non sequitor. I could replace every "explanation" in your article with "Magic", and it would make about as much sense. Resorting to such fallacious arguments is not the way to prove your point.

Comment by omeganaut on Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions · 2011-05-11T19:13:23.660Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

While I understand how there are some questions that cannot be completely answered, I feel as though you have chosen to ignore the fact that science at that time was inadequate to really understand the underlying science. Even today there is no complete understanding of any field, just educated guesses based on experiments and observations. Elan vital was just one theory of attempting to describe why life happens, and it was based on the fact that life had something more than un-living matter. However, further experiments altered this theory. Would you say the same thing about Quantum Theory, or the Electromagnetic Spectrum, or even E=mc^2? So far, those theories, while truthful when modeling current events, have not been conclusively proven. However, by aggressively insinuating that anyone who uses a theory that has not be uncategorically proven as fact is lacking in rational thought, then you belittle the field of science and all that it has achieved.

Comment by omeganaut on Semantic Stopsigns · 2011-05-11T02:16:51.492Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I find most of this article extremely enlightening on the foundation of many problems with modern life. I also, however, have issues with your examples concerning government and other semantic stop signs. Liberal democracy is not necessarily a stop sign. It is easily countered by asking what that has to do with anything, as no current country in the world has a true democracy. They have republics due to the sheer size of countries rendering direct democracy pointless. Also, governments are reliant on the intelligence of their leaders and on those who chose policies and laws. Stopping at Liberal Democracy means that you fail to ask about the possibility that the leaders are misguided or just plain wrong. With the nature of politics, there will always be one current political representative that a voter dislikes. Finally, there is one spot where a stop sign must be placed, and this is on right and wrong. I cannot foresee anyway in which an argument can be advanced past the point where morality dictates one action as better than another. There are explanations, but essentially right and wrong cannot be questioned, otherwise humanity may end up in a world much less pleasant than the current one.

Comment by omeganaut on Absence of Evidence Is Evidence of Absence · 2011-05-10T16:39:27.027Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The simple answer is that absence of proof towards a possibility is not proof that that the possibility cannot exist, merely that there is no actual proof either way. However, in this specific case, the absence of evidence pointing towards the existence of a fifth column that is engaging in sabotage is evidence that indicates that the fifth column does not exist. I agree that the specific terminology is a bit confusing, but that is the simple explanation as to your question.

Comment by omeganaut on Focus Your Uncertainty · 2011-05-09T00:32:24.010Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

First of all, there is a specific time in which you could evenly divide the period because there are only 60 seconds in a minute, which is divisible by three. Secondly, your article seems to say that we should use our anticipation wisely, which would seem to say that anticipating small things is pointless. However, anticipation is a very important part of human life experiences, and as such it is almost impossible to either use less of or create more of unless one is capable of fooling one's self into an erroneous belief. Last, by anticipating an outcome using rational thought to be able to equally anticipate all outcomes reduces the amount of emotional affect on anticipation, when emotion is a very important part of our motivation. Without having a favorite, you no longer care about the issue, and unless you are a practiced pundit, you will be unable to actually seem authentic on air without having your anticipation emotionally charged and correct.
If you see an error in my argument, please point it out, for this is my first post on these forums, and I'm still not used to thinking in your rational mindset.