Comment by yters on Closet survey #1 · 2011-01-10T11:59:00.005Z · LW · GW

Religion is rapidly on the rise around the world. See Algeria and France for an example of what happens to a secularized society when resisting religious extremists.

So, if an extremist is both stronger and reproduces better than a non-extremist, I'm pretty sure the extremist will win.

Comment by yters on A Bayesian Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus · 2011-01-10T11:57:14.012Z · LW · GW

Why would the apostles all die martyrs deaths for someone who didn't live up to his promises? Especially since the gospels show they weren't of the most courageous character either. That is pretty convincing to me, I don't know of a good counter.

Also, if there were so many Christian communities so soon after Jesus' death, then there would be a good community of knowledge to filter false and true accounts of Jesus life.

Finally, why didn't any of the other unorthodox accounts start similar communities? Why are the communities so similar in their beliefs about Jesus, if it is quite likely to have been made up, as you suggest?

Comment by yters on Ends Don't Justify Means (Among Humans) · 2011-01-10T11:47:20.723Z · LW · GW

It's coherent to say de-ontological ethics are hierarchical, and higher goods take precedence over lower goods. So, the lower good of sacrificing one person to save a greater good does not entail sacrificing the person is good. It is just necessary.

Saying the ends justify the means entails the means become good if they achieve a good.

Comment by yters on An Alien God · 2009-10-09T20:57:32.330Z · LW · GW

The problem with evolving evolution is that the search space becomes exponentially larger every time you go up a level of evolution.

Comment by yters on Closet survey #1 · 2009-03-24T06:18:15.523Z · LW · GW

I agree. See my comment for this post. My position is controversial, but pretty coherent. At least, no one came up with a counter argument, I was just downvoted alot. So, my opinion is a pretty good example of what the poster is looking for, yet such opinions inherently will not do well. Really, this forum is antithetical to this post.

Comment by yters on Closet survey #1 · 2009-03-15T04:58:37.834Z · LW · GW

The Enlightenment promise to eradicate religion with knowledge is widely misunderstood. People think it means that there are specific true propositions that falsify religion once learned. But, that is a different claim, namely the eradication of religion with truth. The Enlightenment promised no such thing.

Instead, the Enlightenment promise is actually a promise to brainwash us: washing out our belief in religious claims by overloading our minds with different mental constructs, instead of by using truth. People don't realize this because they subconsciously substitute "truth" for "knowledge" when they think about the Enlightenment. (FYI, David Stove has shown how this bait and switch technique is rife throughout modern philosophy, with such philosophers as Popper and his disciples, Berkeley and the idealists, and Darwinists. See Against the Idols of the Age for more information.)

This also means that we cannot converse with religious extremists. They are extremists because they think their religious beliefs are true. We are not because we think religion and truth are two different categories. Religious beliefs are related to infinite values, whereas our rejection of the possibility of religious truth means all our values are finite. People are motivated in proportion to their value system. Therefore, it is impossible for us to have the same drive as religious extremists.

Since victory ultimately comes down to willpower, our choice is either to eradicate all religious extremists, or submit to them. In the globalized world, the former is impossible. Therefore, religious extremists will win in the end.

Comment by yters on Pretending to be Wise · 2009-02-23T15:09:25.000Z · LW · GW


I said that just incase they had any empathetic qualms. I know they don't really need my permission.

Comment by yters on Pretending to be Wise · 2009-02-21T06:28:20.000Z · LW · GW

Argh, it seems to be not possible to write about ID without coming across as an ideologue. This is a good blog and I do not want to pollute it. Before anyone complains about those comments, I give the mods full permission to delete them if they don't pass the well written/interesting threshold.

Comment by yters on Pretending to be Wise · 2009-02-21T04:44:53.000Z · LW · GW

Email address is here:

Comment by yters on Pretending to be Wise · 2009-02-21T04:01:05.000Z · LW · GW

Now that I've made this argument, some probably have the nagging suspicion that the argument is just more intellectual obscurantism and I'm trying to muddy a clear choice between Creationism and Darwinism. To counteract your nagging suspicion here is a series of links to show you that while many experts claim Dembski is wrong, when you only accept their claims in their areas of expertise and aggregate them, they actually agree with Dembski:

  1. Demski is a good mathematician, but doesn't use the No Free Lunch Theory (NFLT) correctly

Good math bad math

"In my taxonomy of statistical errors, this is basically modifying the search space: he's essentially arguing for properties of the search space that eliminate any advantage that can be gained by the nature of the evolutionary search algorithm. But his only argument for making those modifications have nothing to do with evolution: he's carefully picking search spaces that have the properties he want, even though they have fundamentally different properties from evolution."

  1. Dembski uses the NFLT correctly, but doesn't fill in all the details to show that it applies to biological coevolution

Wolpert, one of the originators of the NFLT

"Indeed, throughout there is a marked elision of the formal details of the biological processes under consideration. Perhaps the most glaring example of this is that neo-Darwinian evolution of ecosystems does not involve a set of genomes all searching the same, fixed fitness function, the situation considered by the NFL theorems. Rather it is a co-evolutionary process. Roughly speaking, as each genome changes from one generation to the next, it modifies the surfaces that the other genomes are searching. And recent results indicate that NFL results do not hold in co-evolution."

  1. The NFLT applies to biological coevolution (see example 4 and conclusion)

Wolpert and Macready on coevolutionary free lunches (example on page 2, but doesn't state the evolution finding in the conclusion) (example on page 5, contains statement in conclusion)

"On the other hand, we have also shown that for the more general biological coevolutionary settings, where there is no sense of a “champion” like there is in self-play, the NFL theorems still hold."

If you want to respond to this comment, please email me that you've responded, or email me your response.

Comment by yters on Pretending to be Wise · 2009-02-21T04:00:22.000Z · LW · GW

Eliezer's post is also a good example of the dangers of refusing neutrality with regard to ID. Since choosing to be neutral is a position, choosing to take sides is also a position, and not necessarily the correct one.

With intelligent design, everyone thinks it comes down to whether I accept God created the world or not. It doesn't, it is about whether intelligent design (by humans, animals, aliens, whatever) is empirically distinguishable from the products of mechanical processes (computer algorithms, geological forces, quantum physics, etc). Many very successful and important disciplines are based on this principle (forensics, archeology, literature analysis, network intrusion detection, and so on). Those who are creating the theory behind ID, such as Dembski, make this point clear.

Therefore, I think ID has substance as a theory, and deserves to be studied. No scientists should be threatened and dismissed from their posts for thinking ID has merit.

Then someone asks me "So, you think God created the world in 6 days?"

I say, "Maybe, but that's a seperate issue."

Response: "No it isn't, you're just trying to remain neutral in a non neutral matter. Science has clearly shown the earth and universe are all very old, and came into being through a very lengthy process. You obviously take the side of fuzzy religious obscurantists over hard headed scientists due to existential concerns about meaning. Therefore, your rational processes are suspect and you are another data point demonstrating ID is just a political tool. End of discussion."

Since there is a big side taking issue (Creationism vs Darwinism) that is related to ID, it completely derails any possibility of getting at the actual ideas and whether they are any good. As I stated at the beginning, it is important to realize that just as neutrality is a position, taking sides is also a position. Thus, as it is a position, it may be the wrong position.

Comment by yters on Pretending to be Wise · 2009-02-21T02:46:52.000Z · LW · GW

That's why in the old days gentlemen were financially independent. If you are financially independent then there is little material incentive to compromise one's principles. Today, we're taught to become heavily financially dependent, and so people don't take hard stands.

Comment by yters on Beyond the Reach of God · 2008-10-09T05:18:00.000Z · LW · GW

Ha, I get it now, FAI is about creating god.

Anyways, no matter what you do, mind annihilation is certain in our universe, i.e. 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Comment by yters on Make an Extraordinary Effort · 2008-10-08T10:43:03.000Z · LW · GW

Along the lines of a rationality competition and why rationalists don't seem to do all that much better, is there a criteria for rationality? In the fields where lots of work results in maximizing gain, there are quantitative criteria for what counts as good and bad. I don't know of any such criteria for rationality.